Purposeful Faith

Category - Regular Contributor

Peace & Leaving the World Behind

peace wild rest

Post By: Angela Parlin

We should all spend time outside each day. I don’t know about you, but I spend too many hours indoors.

As a remedy, sometimes I work at the kitchen table near the propped-open door to the deck. Hearing the wind rustling through the trees and birds fighting over seeds at the feeder does something for my heart. It’s not all the way outside, but it’s close.

Long ago, I posted this poem, one of my favorites, on the bulletin board at my desk, the one I don’t actually work at very often.

The Peace of Wild Things 

By Wendell Berry

“When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be.

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.

I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

I wonder if so often when we misplace our peace, if the answer is simply to spend more time outside.

I say I wonder, but I already know what kind of person I become when I spend extended minutes under the sky. There I see the rest of the beauty, and it’s not that I forget the chaos of the day. It’s not that the challenges disappear or the discouragement dissipates.

Out there, we realize we can walk away for a bit and the whole thing doesn’t all fall down.

Ohhh, right–it wasn’t really me holding everything together.

In the presence of still water or even angry waves, we remember again we have no control over the things we fear.

We remember Who does control all things—He Who is good and true and beautiful and eternal.

Who is acquainted with all this growing old and wearing away and falling down and rising up again. He Who endures forever and ever, Who is seen at the center of all this worldly beauty.

The Lord is God, and He has made His light shine on us. Psalm 118:27

It takes a few minutes, but I confess the truth. I’ve been taxing my life again, imagining losses that haven’t even happened. Why do I continue to repeat this?

Once again, I return to the wild. I take a walk in the woods past the yard, thick with green and a melody of snapping sticks underfoot. I imagine snakes hiding out like sharks in the ocean, while hoping they’re at least as rare.

Somehow I’ve left the rest of the world behind me. I come into the peace of wild things, and their holy message sinks ever deeper to my core.

Like Berry, I rest in the grace of the world—and I’m free.

///////////

From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.
Psalm 61:2

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Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

The Good Found in the Darkness (Linkup)

I can’t sleep without white noise. Whether it’s a fan, air purifier or an app on my phone, I need that gentle hum to lull me into oblivion.

My husband travels several times a year for work, and sometimes during his absence I turn the noise up a notch. Every sound in the house except for that air purifier sends me into a panic.

I check the locks on the doors three or four times. I stand by the kids’ bedroom doors to make sure they’re asleep. I pace the house wondering.

Was that a mouse in our attic? Was it a squirrel? Or was it an intruder looking for a way inside the house?

 Now, we live in a fairly safe neighborhood. But it only takes an hour of drama on Netflix or the latest news story to send my mind into high-anxiety mode.

There’s something about the darkness that makes us uncomfortable, isn’t there?

We fear what’s lurking in the shadows. We like the awareness the light brings- a sense of control, a knowledge of what surrounds us and even what threatens us.

Come on over to Abby McDonald’s blog to read the rest of this post! She’s hosting the #RaRaLinkup today. We’d love to have you join us and share your encouraging post.

 

Desperation Can Give Birth to Dedication

Desperation can give birth to dedication by Katie M. Reid for Kelly Balarie's Purposeful Faith

Post By: Katie M. Reid

Are you in a desperate situation? Does it feel like you’re facing a brick wall, with no way to get around it? Are you struggling to find hope as the season changes?

In 1 Samuel 1:1-27, 2:1-11 we read about a woman, named Hannah, who found herself in a time of desperation.

Hannah was deeply loved yet she carried around a haunting emptiness. In a time when a woman’s womb was wound up tightly to her worth, Hannah’s barrenness must have flashed “broken” like a neon sign in a dark alley.

Not only was Hannah unable to conceive but her husband’s other wife, Peninnah, had children. Not only did Peninnah have children but she provoked Hannah bitterly about her closed womb (see 1 Samuel 1:6).

Have you known that sting? It’s salt in the wound when you are lacking yet someone nearby holds the very thing you long for. Maybe they aren’t hanging it over your head but deep down you struggle to celebrate with them.

Maybe you are dealing with infertility and Hannah’s account hits a little too close to home? Or maybe you long to birth a book, or have more money in your account, or receive a clean bill of health, or to live somewhere else, or for your husband to be more attentive, or to even have a husband?

No matter what leaves you empty, I think we can all relate to the ache that Hannah carried.

She had a life-giving longing and yet, year after year, she was left unfulfilled.

Have you been there? I have. Like Hannah, I longed for a baby to hold. I had three children at the time but God birthed a deep desire to adopt a child. I assumed my God-given desire would be granted in no time; I was wrong.

Some nights I crept into the empty nursery and rocked. The tears fell and my arms ached as I longed for this baby. Where was this little life that had been conceived in my heart so many months ago?

It is hard to trust God in the dark places, when you can’t see a way out of the tunnel and you wonder if the secret desires of your soul can even be seen at all.

But in those difficult times, we can bring our desperation to the Lord and trust Him with it.

Our desperation can give birth to dedication.

My prayer is that we learn from Hannah, not so much that she finally received what her arms ached for, but that in her anguish she poured out her soul before the Lord (see 1 Samuel 1:15).

-She allowed God to see the depth of her pain (vs. 15).
-She didn’t run from God but ran to Him and asked for intervention (vs. 11-12).
-She believed God could do what she had asked of Him (vs. 17-18).

Now it came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I have asked him of the Lord’” (vs. 20, NASB).

Be assured the Lord hears you when you pour out your soul to Him. You can trust Him with the tender places of your heart.

Have you wanted something so badly that it ached?
And then to make things worse someone else had what you were longing for. It is irritating and painful, and can leave you hollow; fighting for hope amidst the heap of ashes at your feet.

Left unguarded your ache can drive you away from the Lord or it can drive you to your knees.

Hope can be found at Jesus’ feet. He willingly died on the Cross—and rose again—so that you can be emptied of sin and filled with His Presence.

Like Hannah, may your desperation give birth to dedication as you cling to His unchanging hope despite your circumstances. May Jesus’ love light the way through the gray as you take the next step towards Him.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Author & Speaker Katie M. Reid image by Adopting Nations
Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. Through her writing and speaking, Katie encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life.

Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com and on Twitter and Facebook.

P.S. Here is a free gift from our heart to yours!

As Katie waited to adopt she recorded an album, Echoes of My Heart. As a special gift Katie is offering a free download of a song from that album entitled, “Waitin’ On Someday”. May you be encouraged as you keep trusting the One is with you through it all.

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When You Feel Abandoned By God

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“Well, this isn’t how you prayed this moment would turn out.”

The thought passed through my filter of truth and circled my mind on repeat. I knew it was a lie, but I listened to it. I stood there with my four-year-old, who was starting a new school, and tried to hold back tears.

His own tears flowed freely.

“I want to go to old school,” he said repeatedly. The school staff gathered around, trying to calm him.

“Buddy, this is your school now. You’re going to have lots of fun and you get to go to school with Jay,” I said, faking composure.

Big brother stood beside us, cool as a cucumber. He told little one everything was going to be okay and talked about the things he was going to do with his class.

I looked at my firstborn’s cherub-like face with amazement. He was a little beacon of sunshine in this mess of a morning. A reminder from God that He was still there.

The guidance counselor distracted little one with a walk over to the school’s pet lizard and settled him. With her prompting, I snuck outside to my car, praying my baby’s day would improve.

My day did not. A rough morning with my youngest turned out to be only the start of hours of chaos and like an old habit, I questioned God again.

Why is this happening? Please, God. Make it stop.

For weeks, anxiety over life’s circumstances had been mounting. I worried about my youngest starting school. I worried about a family conflict. My mind turned to the baby growing inside me and I worried about the postpartum months.

You’re not going to have anyone to help you. You’re going to be alone.

With each lie I listened to, I was more overwhelmed. And this crazy day was the culmination of it all, begging to verify all my worries were true.

Except they weren’t.

Those beacons of light that began with my firstborn’s calm demeanor kept coming. A friend offered to help with the kids at the last minute when I needed to go to the doctor.

You’re not alone. You have friends to lend you a hand.

In the middle of a pregnancy scare, I called my doctor’s office to set up a spur of the moment prenatal visit. And in a practice with a dozen doctors, I got an appointment with the one I trusted the most.

I’m here with you in the chaos, child. I haven’t gone anywhere.

When troubles abound, we’re tempted to question God. It’s our human nature. But you know what? The flesh is a liar.

It lied to Eve in the garden when she listened to the serpent and felt like she was lacking something, even though she lacked nothing. It lied to David when, in the midst of being pursued by Saul, he thought God had abandoned him. (Psalm 13:1)

Our circumstances may change like the wind, but God’s faithfulness does not.

He is steady and constant, reaching into our problems with a soft whisper, “I am with you. I go behind you and before you.”

That pregnancy scare? It turned out to be a false alarm. And my sweet Gabe transitioned into his new school with ease after a rough first morning. While I know things won’t always turn out the way I desire, my chaos-filled day served as a reminder of one simple truth: God never leaves.

The next time you’re in a middle of a storm, look for the beacon of light. It may be as faint as a jet stream, but it’s there. And when you find it remember at your weakest point, He is strong.

He’s whispering to you in the storm. You just have to focus your ears and listen.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

AbbyView More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015 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.

 

 

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When Those Who Wander Get Lost

Wander Lost

Post By: Angela Parlin

I tore through the woods behind our home barefoot, chasing two tiny dachshund puppies, on repeat.

I was a young puppy Mom, and Bailey and Bear were my sweet, scrappy baby boys. They were fearless, but only because they were also clueless. They could sniff out a door open for adventure, faster than I could grab my shoes.

Bailey and Bear were happy at home, let me tell you. Spoiled rotten actually. It wasn’t that they wanted to leave our home, but they were made for the hunt. They loved to make us happy, but they also lived to chase after squirrels and birds and other puppy dog friends.

They were prone to wander beyond the walls of our home, beyond the confines of our fenced backyard.

It stressed me out to no end. I felt like a crazy woman. But when they ran? I ran after them. Because they were my babies. And while I believed they were the most adorable dogs ever made, I also knew their brains were small. Their hunting instinct and tunnel vision overpowered their intelligence, and I wasn’t going to let them get hurt. I wasn’t going to lose them…

Come on over to Angela Parlin’s blog  to see how our Father comes after us also. Bring your encouraging linkup post, as she’s hosting the #RaRaLinkup this week!

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here

Life is a Puzzle, Without the Full View

Life is a Puzzle, But We're Missing the Full View

Post By: Angela Parlin

Some nights, my little girl stops me from heading out of her bedroom after I’ve tucked her in.

Before I move on to the next kid’s room, she needs me to help her sort through scary questions, unfathomable for a just-turned-9 year-old. Matters of life and death and everything in-between.

It’s a gift to talk deep with her, because I get to point her to the HOPE I know, again and again.

I get to help her see where Jesus resides within the gains and the losses of this world.

But it also tears my heart out. She’s seen enough now to know it’s not all going to be okay. Not in the way we would like it to be.

She’s seen the broken way of things here. She’s walked through loss and several near-losses with us. She’s wiped tears and cut out pink heart-shaped cards, adding stickers and cursive I love you’s. She’s served up comfort in mugs of hot tea with a side of dark chocolate & almonds.

She knows things I wish she didn’t know.

It’s a terrible world, one with ISIS and earthquakes and anger and leaving and loss. It’s a world where we sometimes shake our heads and cry and say I don’t know. I don’t understand.

Recently a friend of ours lost his sister suddenly. She was younger than me.

She’d had a hard run, and when he stood to speak at her funeral, he said, It seemed like she could never really catch a break in life.

He shared what he has left of her, his memories. He talked about how she loved to put together 5,000-piece puzzles, and laughed that there was one currently spread across a table at Mom and Dad’s house–missing that one piece like always. Then he asked a question, and it left a lasting picture in my mind.

What’s the most important part of a puzzle?

It’s the top of the box. The completed view.

The picture of how things are supposed to look in the end.

Without that, we don’t know where we’re headed.

Without it, the puzzle doesn’t make sense.

That day, remembering his sister, was a little like putting together a puzzle without the box top. Without that one missing piece.

Why did God allow it? We don’t know. Will it all be okay? Yes, and also no.

What we do know: Jesus resides within the loss. It hurts, and God still moves. He is working toward the good of drawing us each to Him. One day, the losses will end. He will bring so much beauty out of all this chaos.

It will be okay, but only because Jesus never loses the view of the top of the box.

It will be okay, because of Who God is–the Eternal God and the Everlasting Father. Because He is Good and He cares for us. Because He is full of Mercy and Kindness and Grace. It will be okay, because we trust in Him, even when we don’t understand.

We see blurred images in this mirror, but one day we will see clearly.

Life is a puzzle, and today we’re missing the finished view.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:12-13, NLT

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here. 

Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

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Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!

Pursue peace image by Katie M. Reid for purposefulfaith.com

Post By: Katie M. Reid

I’m in denial that it’s August already. I’m thankful we live in a tourist state (Michigan) and don’t start school until after Labor Day. Many of my southern friends are sending their kiddos off to school this month.

Our summer has been a whirlwind and I desperately want it to slow down. I had plans to savor, linger, and slow down—but it feels like I’m trying to swim upstream in a river of gooey molasses.

After deliberations with my sister-in-law, I reinstated allowance in our home. The offspring now receive $3 a week—hey, Hubby and I used to receive 50 cents a week, so it’s an upgrade.

I instructed the children that they should save up for something special and not just fill our home with dollar store treasures (a.k.a. cheap junk). They had their eyes set on larger items until the cash started burning a hole in their pockets. They begged me to stop by the store in the midst of a million-things-to-do kind of day. They would not relent even though I tried to explain how much there was to do.

Much to their dismay we ran out of time and I ran out of energy—lugging the handful of kids around town.

So, I said that we would go the next day. I said it matter-of-fact, with every intent of it happening.

And then it didn’t.

I was achy from trying to do too much, the baby needed to eat, the toddler wouldn’t sleep, I couldn’t nap, and so on.

We ran out of time and steam.

I think there was steam coming out of the kids’ ears as I delivered the world-crushing news that we didn’t have time, again, to stop at the store.

They stomped, they screamed, and they called me a liar (more than once).

While their behavior was less-than-stellar, I felt guilty. I hadn’t mean to lie. It wasn’t my intent to not take them. Life happened and plans changed and flexibility and empathy were needed but not offered.

Mom, you always lie.

You say we’re going to do something and we don’t do it!

You are a liar.

I was mad about the unfair accusations but also convicted that often times I unintentionally don’t keep my word. I wanted to remedy the situation so I apologized for what I could.

Kids, I’m really sorry it didn’t work out to take you to the store. I did say that we were going to go, but I should have said something like, ‘We will try our best to go. Or we will most likely go. Or we’ll see if it works out.’ Will you forgive me?

I want my kids to trust me. I need to more careful when I hand out promises. I want them to believe my words.

It’s no fun to feel like a “liar, liar, pants of fire”.

I pleased to say the next day we went to the store, even though it still wasn’t convenient and we didn’t have very much time—but I kept my word and peace was restored.

Here are 3 ways to pursue peace instead of burning down walls of trust:

  1. Be realistic with what you can offer. Many times you might want to help others but when the time comes to make good on your promise, you are unable to fulfill it. It’s hard to know what life will look like months from now. Be careful that you are not ensnaring yourself with your words. Don’t use this as an excuse to be non-committal but ask God to help you be realistic with what you have time for in this present season. It’s easier to be able to help out when the times comes vs. letting someone down because you can’t make good on what you offered a long time ago.
  2. Don’t burn bridges. You want people to be able to trust you. Even if you’ve done something wrong unintentionally, go to the person and apologize for the way that you’ve let them down. Clear the air of offense and be willing to lay down the need to be right for the sake of the relationship (yeah, this one is really hard, but worth it). I’m not talking about issues of sin here, but letting go of the need to be top dog or have the upper hand. Try a little love and logic, like I do with our tween, I love you too much to argue.
  3. Protect the margins on your calendar. Has your summer been like ours? Many of our commitments were unavoidable, but we need to do a better job of protecting margins. When schedules are busting at the seams, frustration seeps out and peace is compromised. Take a look at the rest of the month. Are there any obligations or activities that can be eliminated or delegated? Make some room to breathe and protect your white space. Some seasons require more commitments than others, but make sure your norm isn’t like a hamster in a wheel—spinning round and round but going nowhere in particular. As we rest we communicate trust that God knew what He was doing when he instituted Sabbath.

So the next time $3 is burning a hole in my kids’ pockets, I don’t want to find my own pants on fire because I’m acting like a liar.

Let’s pursue peace with God and family by being true to the Word and keeping our word.

Let’s choose to apologize when we’ve lied and seek to make amends for the sake of our relationship with the Lord and others.

Let’s stop stuffing schedules to the brim and ask God to help us create margin so we can enjoy Him and be recharged.

Psalm 34:14 “Turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.”

Get all Purposeful Faith Blog Posts by Email – click here.

Author & Speaker Katie M. Reid image by Adopting Nations

Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography Katie encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life.

Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com and on Twitter and Facebook.

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When Grief is Great and Your Words Are Weak

Post by Abby McDonald

Today we’re saying goodbye to one of the oldest members of our family. She doesn’t wear human skin or express herself in many syllables, but she’s loved just the same.

She’s the four-legged kind. A blondie. A dear friend named Coco.

She and our other mutt brought my husband and I together thirteen years ago with their mutual love for walks and chasing furry creatures. And as they say, well, the rest is history.

Since I’m pregnant and rather hormonal the realization that our companion is dying hit me rather hard. But I believe during those hard seasons God often speaks the loudest, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

As my husband wrapped his arms around me and my round belly this morning, I reflected,

“It’s amazing how God speaks to us through our animals.”

I’d been observing our two girls over the past couple of days. Our other dog, Zoe, knew something was up and her disposition had changed. She’d become more affectionate, more calm, wanting to be near us often.

One day I let both of them out on our back porch while I cleaned. After about a half hour, I peeked through the window. Coco laid on the doormat, like she always does, and Zoe reclined behind her, practically spooning her with her legs.

She stayed in the same position until I let them inside, only leaving Coco’s side for an occasional drink of water. It was as though she was saying, “I’m here for you, girl. It’s okay.”

But she didn’t need words to say it. Her presence was enough.

As I thought about these mutts who started our family, I realized how often I use words to fill the empty spaces of grief. Not because they’re needed, but because I think they are. I have friends and family members who are walking through difficulties much harder than a dying pet, and the silence of sadness can be awkward.

I focus on myself and my need to fill the void rather than the grieving person’s need to simply know I’m there. To know I’m not going anywhere, and that the discomfort of grief won’t keep me from loving them.

When it comes to grief, silence always speaks louder than empty words.

Sometimes a hug goes further than a platitude and a listening ear further than a trite explanation.

“Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” Job 2:13 NIV

When we can’t mouth the words to Jesus because of the weight of our sadness, He still hears us. He’s that good of a Savior and a friend.

Job’s friends modeled the behavior of Jesus himself when he encountered those who were grieving a deep loss. If we look into the scriptures and walk through the chapter of his life where a close friend died, we see that his words were few. And even though he foresaw the miracle, he wept. (John 11:25)

Today as I run my fingers through my companion’s soft fur for the last few times and reflect on these verses, I know my love for words won’t change. I’ll keep offering them up as praise, encouragement, and a gift at the altar of the One who gave them to me.

But I pray God will give me wisdom to know when words are weak. Because even when I have nothing to say, his healing power is still strong.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

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.

Choose to Celebrate the Beauty

Celebrate the Beauty

Post By: Angela Parlin

He smiled from ear to ear, with a patch of fuzzy hair standing straight up on top of his five-year-old head. Big eyes twinkling, he grabbed my hand from behind the kitchen sink and led me out to the back deck.

“Stay RIGHT there, Mom. I gotta show you something you’re gonna LOVE!”

He descended the stairs, filling the air with his mile-wide smile.

I stood there spilling tears under the sky on a windy Friday afternoon, because some days, I start to understand. These are the days of my life, and they aren’t always easy. I often don’t want them to play out the way they do.

But these off-schedule, messy, monotonous days are always full of beauty—and God gives us the opportunity to choose to see it.

Will we choose to celebrate the beauty found in our own right here, right now?

Sometimes I realize how much I miss. I don’t always enjoy the little gifts in my life, because I’m focused on my to-do lists. Or I’m honed in on my plans and the way they should go. Or I’m fixated on some disappointment. I need these stop-everything moments. I need this reminder–to celebrate the little things.

He climbed up on the green swing seat and asked me if I was ready. He asked if I was watching.

“Go ahead, honey. I’m watching. I’m ready!”

Then my last little tiny, who’s growing way too fast, started pumping his legs back and forth, keeping his eyes on me. I cheered, like he’d crossed the finish line of his first marathon.

And I cried. Because he’s adorable and he’s smart and he’s taller now and his feet can reach and when did I miss him working on the swing?

So many times, I’d pushed him back and forth in that spot, encouraging him to pump his little legs, so that when I walked away, he could keep on swinging. So many times, he just didn’t even want to. He wanted me to push him instead.

Not this day. This day he felt the thrill of figuring it out on his own, of kicking up dirt and swinging high into the air. All by his big self.

So I stood there swinging between pride and joy, but also fear and loss.

I know I’m going to miss these days, and I don’t like that feeling. To fix it, I want to try to be present for every ordinary sliver of daily life with each of my kids. I want to save them all up and hold them in my heart forever.

Of course, every is impossible. Right? We’re only human, and we will miss things. We can make an effort to be present with our people, but there will still be limitations.

One day, we will miss this–and there’s nothing we can do to change that.

What comes next will also be sweet. But it will be different. So today? Let’s love the opportunities God gives us. Let’s ask Him to fill our hearts with wisdom, as the psalmist prayed.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12, NIV

While lost in thoughts about seeing beauty and living fully and all that is to come in our lives, my little man asked a question I’ll never forget.

“Isn’t it FUN to watch me swing, Mom?”

Oh, buddy. You have no idea. I LOVE to watch you swing.

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Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

How to Transform Ugly to Lovely

Death and life are in the power of the tongue Proverbs 18:21

Post By: Katie M. Reid

Last week my husband and I directed Vacation Bible School (VBS) for our church. The theme was “Ocean Commotion” and there was a lot of commotion in our home as we prepared for this program. I decided to wear my loud LuLaRoe leggings—yellow, turquoise, brown, and orange splattered, a bold flowing top, and my feather earrings to help support the theme.

There was so much to do to prepare for opening night of VBS. When I feel stressed, I bark out orders to the family, expecting them to hop-to and meet my demands. It isn’t pretty.

As I walked down our hallway, I informed Sunshine-headed son that he better start emptying the dishwasher. Usually this reminder is met with resistance and sighing but this time was different.

“You look beautiful, Mom!” my son declared with enthusiasm.

I had wondered if my outfit was a bit much, but my son’s unexpected compliment reassured me that I had made the right wardrobe selection. I smiled and my countenance lifted.

Later on, as we were frantically getting ready to head to the church to decorate for VBS, I told my daughter to go get her toddler brother’s shoes on so we could get out the door and “Hurry up, we need to leave soon!”

“Mom, I love your outfit. You look beautiful!” she cooed.

Once again I was stopped in my tracks. Darling daughter’s words of affirmation gave me a burst of joy. Her adoration transformed my frustrated tone, if but momentarily, as I held my head a little higher.

My kids were being so nice to me when I was being bossy.

Then I heard my tween daughter whisper to my husband, “When Mom is in a bad mood, we decided to give her a compliment and tell her that she looks beautiful.”

“Hey, I heard that! ” I called out from the bathroom.

So, that’s why they were bathing me with compliments. They were trying to transform my irritation and see if that would help me get off their backs about cleaning and doing chores.

It was working.

They turned ugly to lovely by responding in love to my meanness. Okay, they were being a bit manipulative and trying to get out of work, but their experimental tactic was quite genius.

With each compliment, I felt uplifted. My demeanor changed as they met my demands with a verbal blessing.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by all there was to get done, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that they were being so nice. They heaped burning coals of love upon my head as they issued the unexpected.

My kids social experiment convicted me of my negativity and also inspired me to try it out.

What if I respond kindly to others when they are mean instead of pouting about it?

What if I issue grace instead of offense when I get my feelings hurt?

What if I compliment those I’m frustrated with instead of complaining to their face
(or behind their back)?

Could it be that we can transform ugly to lovely by reminding others of the beauty we see in them?

Let’s give it a try.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” -Proverbs 18:21

Dear God:

Thank You for saving us from sin. Thank You for dying on the cross and then rising again, that we might live for Your purposes, now and in the life to come. Thank You for taking what is broken and making it beautiful. Thank You for transforming our ugly into lovely. Forgive us for hurting others with careless words. Help us to reflect Your unconditional love with the way we respond to others. May we care for others with the strength You provide, by the leading of Your Spirit, and out of our commitment to doing things Your way—even when it’s hard. Thank You for Your Word and that we can be transformed by it. Give us a desire to know and apply Your Truth, that we might truly live—radiant and free.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Author & Speaker Katie M. Reid image by Adopting Nations

Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography Katie encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life.

Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com and on Twitter and Facebook.