Purposeful Faith

Category - Regular Contributor

When You Cannot Have It

You Cannot Have it
I am delighted to welcome a new regular contributor, Angela Nazworth. She is not only a friend, who I adore, but an eloquent writer who always teaches me a lesson about God’s goodness. I hope you relish in her words the same way I do. Welcome Angela!
My hair has issues. Or perhaps the more honest statement to make would be for me to write that I have issues with my hair. I always have. Not even when I was five  and my golden locks rivaled those of Rupunzel did I like my mane. Oh, I liked the length, and when it was properly curled and styled I pretended to be a princess, but I did not like the tangles. Even less did I enjoy the pain and aggravation caused by the untangling process.

My mom, being the one who had to listen to my whining protests, decided that my long hair had to go. This decision was made when I was in the fourth-grade, and it was one with which I agreed.

There was a downside. It was the year of the mullet. Not only is the mullet an eye sore, it’s a lot of work. My hair still easily knotted in the back and a brush was no longer the sole implement required to style my baby fine tresses. Each morning my mom had to stand over me with a hot curling iron to make the top portion of my head look more feminine, which in 1984 meant high and fluffy.

Fast-forward 30 years and you will still find me complaining about my hair. I have dyed it various shades. In my attempts for the perfect color, my hair has been green, pastel orange, purple, gray, and pink. All unintended. I have also tried myriad styles: short and bobbed, long and spiral permed, short and spiral permed, pixie, etc.

Once, as I sat in the salon chair of a former stylist eagerly waiting for her to transform me into a super model with just a few clips from her scissors, (I tend to have high expectations) she said the most peculiar thing to me.

“You are so lucky to have straight, fine hair.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said with surprise. “I wouldn’t wish this hair on anyone, plus what is with my crazy hair line in the back that grows upward and that hideous cowlick?”

“It’s much better than having hair like mine,” she bemoaned.  “It’s so thick and coarse.”

I looked at her long, voluminous, perfectly coiffed blonde hair and giggled.

“This is too funny,” I said. “You have my dream hair!”

“Well, I guess we all want what we don’t have,” she replied.

How true that is. For sheep, the grass is always greener on the other side. For women, the hair is always prettier on the other head!

Moreover, it doesn’t stop with hairstyles.  I will be perfectly happy with my blog’s design until I see the makeover another writer’s site recently got and then, suddenly, I determine that my online space needs spiffing up. I will feel content in my house until I overhear the sales rep at Home Depot tell another customer that “Aqua Chiffon,” is the most popular color for living room walls and I realize that I don’t even have anything close to that shade anywhere in my home.

It’s easy for me to brush off this cycle of comparison as innocent, human nature, but in reality it’s unhealthy and emotionally dangerous. Disparaging what belongs to me opens the gates of envy, coveting, and bitterness. Focus shifts from God and His goodness to selfish desires and I begin to lose sight of blessings that surround me. When I’m in the mode of comparison, discontentment and want, the vision of my heart blurs and I open myself up to being more susceptible to commit other sins in the name of pride.

Why is it so much easier for me to want something I cannot have than to thank my savior for the many gifts I possess?

My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything. – Colossians 2:6-10

So while the grass may appear greener, hair prettier, furniture grander, homes bigger, and figures thinner … I now try extra hard to not be so interested in the proverbial other side. I am going to focus on how to make my inside look more like Jesus and foster a spirit of thankfulness for all He has given me.

What about you? Please use the comment section to share something about your life for which you are thankful and no longer desire to change.

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

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Angela Nazworth is a flawed and forgiven recovering perfection who writes mostly about the beauty of grace, faith, friendship, vulnerability and community at angelanazworth.com. She is a wife and a mother of two, who manages philanthropic communications for a nonprofit, national healthcare association. Angela’s also an encourager, a lover of good books, coffee, girl’s night out, sunshine, and waterfalls. She believes the creator of the universe is both the author of and lead character in her life story. With every experience she learns more about who she is in Him … and takes another step on her journey to love others better. You can also chat with Angela via Twitter.

You Are Welcome Here

Come As You Are by Katie M Reid for Kelly Balarie's Purposeful Faith

Post by: Katie M. Reid

Have you ever tried on a dress that was just not your style—ill-fitted for the shape God gave you?

I have been “blessed” with a pear shape figure, smaller on top and curvy on bottom; literally.

Straight, fitted dresses are a death sentence for my body type. I need extra material down south to cover the bulk.

Last week I tried to wear a style that was not flattering on me. No, it wasn’t a dress style, it was a writing style. I tried to pull on a style that looked good on others, but it was not a good fit for who God has made me to be.

I was trying to wear something shiny and sleek so that I would gain attention and maximize impact.

But, it didn’t lay nicely and it felt uncomfortable.

I was conflicted. I was trying so hard for it to fit, but it just wouldn’t. It did not complement how I was made, much to my dismay.

But here’s the thing, God made each of us a certain way, completely on purpose.

While we might be irritated with the largeness or smallness of our mold, Our Creator was intentional when He spun us on the Potter’s Wheel.

Come on over for the rest of the story as Katie hosts the #RaRaLinkup over at her place, katiemreid.com, today

When the Recognition Doesn’t Come

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I waited a week for acknowledgement that the gift was received. A book I carefully picked out for this season of his life when he was groping for meaning and purpose.

I opted for the express shipping so it would be there in time for his birthday. My anticipation of his reaction mounted.

But the gratitude never came. There was no text, no thank you. I went online to make sure the package was delivered and saw it had.

It was as though the attempt to reach out never happened.

Self-defeat and pity consumed me. Why did I bother? Why did I make an effort when time and time again it wasn’t reciprocated?

An old wound was irritated. I knew I needed to address the source of pain, but I waited.

When a similar situation happened weeks later, I could no longer ignore the ache. I longed for recognition of the love I was pouring into those around me. I watched as others received pats on the back and validation.

In quiet moments between the fluster of a home with two young boys, I searched for peace. I asked the Creator to show me his heart.

Here’s the thing about asking the Father to reveal himself to you: He always delivers. It may not be on our timeline or in the way we prefer, but his response is as sure as the dew after a slow rain.

In another room I could hear my three-year-old begging for praise from big brother. He’d just put together the choo-choo and to him, it was a lifetime achievement worthy of celebration.

The desire to be seen was as deep and innate in him as breathing.

I flipped through my Bible trying to grasp the life behind the words on the page, but the syllables fell flat. Turning pages aimlessly, I landed in John.

Jesus was talking with the Jews, who were persecuting him because he equated himself with the Father. They wanted witnesses who could testify to the truth.

But the Father is the only witness Jesus needs.

“I am the one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” John 8:18 NIV

Even though the Jews didn’t see Jesus’ heart and eternal worth, the Father did. And he sees mine too. But often, my actions say my identity in Him isn’t enough.

I run after accolades and gold stars, but the only credit I need is from my Creator. He approved me, sealed me and delivered me.

I crave the spotlight and the center stage, but on God’s stage we are all equals.

If I walk in step with the Spirit, his witness is sufficient. Everything I have is a gift from Him, and I am simply pouring it into others so that they may experience the life he gives.

Friends, there is nothing wrong with recognition and encouragement. In fact, scripture tells us to encourage each other and build each other up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

But this type of acknowledgment is conditional and fleeting, while God’s adoration is unconditional and eternal.

Whose favor am I seeking most?

Months after my seemingly forgotten gift, I was visiting family. My loved one brought the book out and told me how much it meant to him. As he opened it to talk about a particular passage, I saw pages filled with marks from his highlighter and thoughts written in the margins.

Despite my flawed impression, he saw my heart.

And your Father in Heaven sees yours too.

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*Photo Credit

Guest ContributorAbby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, 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.

When You’re Cheering On the Sidelines

cheering on the sidelines

Post By: Katie M. Reid

My dad said that if I got a tattoo or was a cheerleader he wouldn’t pay for college.

Years after I graduated, I almost caved and got a tattoo, but backed out at the last minute. It was going to say something like, “Follow the Way of Love”.

I didn’t exactly avoid the cheerleading thing though—cheering for others is something that naturally springs forth from within.

No, I don’t cheer on the sidelines for sporting events—except when our kids are playing soccer, then my husband and I are completely obnoxious and embarrassing, we’re so competitive!

But I do cheer for others as they pursue their dreams. I love to inspire others to take the next steps and to jump higher. I enjoy celebrating like a fool when a writing friend gets a book deal or a speaking friend gets an invitation to a national conference.

I am genuinely happy for my friends when they succeed, and I would do a back handspring for them, if I could—I tried to master one in gymnastics but never did get the hang of it.

But here’s the thing, when I see others sailing through the air—reaching new heights—it’s easy to feel left behind, grounded and insecure.

Recently, I confided in a few friends about how I was feeling as I saw others soar. It was embarrassing to admit that I was having a 38 year old temper tantrum—this first-born over-achiever doesn’t like to be left-out or passed by.

One of these friends prayed that God would give me clarity in my mission so that, regardless of what others are doing, I will feel peace pursuing the things that He has put in my heart (thanks Kelly!).

So I prayed this prayer. And you know what I felt like He said? Help others be successful.

I’m not going to lie, this was not really what I wanted to hear! It was, and is, such a pride-buster to my striving and driving self.

And maybe that’s exactly the point.

God knows what I need and that truly, deep down, I want to be more like Him than be liked by the masses—it’s buried down deep in there somewhere.

I read this the other day and it hit home, right in the epicenter of my success-driven self,

“Do I want to make a difference or do I want to be famous?” -Kimberly D. Henderson

That’ll shut you up—or at least me up—as it speaks to the heart of the matter.

Do I want to climb the ladder or am I willing to hold the ladder for others?

Do I want the accolades, the fame and the win, or will I stoop, support and assist in order to hoist others to the heights that He has prepared for them?

Are you sure God? So basically You want me to be a cheerleader, so that others have a greater chance at V-I-C-T-O-R-Y? This is hard on my pride God, but I trust that You know what is best. And, thank You, for wiring me to cheer and come alongside others. It hurts sometimes as I’m stretched and bruised but it is a privilege. Forgive my unbecoming greed for gain and help me to be committed to holding the ladder so that others can climb.

Follow the way of love. I didn’t tattoo it on my foot, but He wants to write it on my heart and help me walk it out.

Jesus stooped down—from His royal throne—to come to earth and be the ladder between us and God.

Jesus made a way for us by serving, sacrificing and surrendering so that we could be restored to a right relationship with Father God, if we choose to believe and make Him Lord.

He offered Himself—holding nothing back—out of Love for us.
Oh, how I fall short of this kind of love.

May we make Jesus famous in our lives as we bend to exalt Him.
May we trust Him with our dreams and let His Spirit lead each step of the way.
May we care more about connecting with Jesus and being known by Him than we are about gaining connections to be known by others.
May we celebrate well when God brings others success—and maybe even learn how to do a back-handspring too.

Katie M. Reid Headshot

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, four children and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography she encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com

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

When People Look Like Trees

People Look Like Trees Sight

Today, I am delighted to have Angela Parlin, a regular contributor to Purposeful Faith, posting today. Angela is full of wisdom, grace and truth. Her words have a delicate tone that gently guide my eyes to God every time. I hope you delight in her words today as much as I do.

Post by: Angela Parlin

“God won’t stop until we can see everything clearly.”

~David Lomas, The Truest Thing About You

Just when you start to think you have Jesus figured out, He spits in a man’s eyes to heal him in an unconventional way.

It’s the only gradual healing we find in the gospels. Typically, Jesus touched someone, or they touched Him, and His touch healed them instantly. At other times, He simply said the word, and a person was healed.

In Mark chapter 8, Jesus healed a blind man in a two-stage process. First, Jesus led the man outside of town and spit in his eyes.

I’m not even joking. And the oddness only increases. Because this is Jesus–who holds the power to heal anyone in any way—and it almost seems as if He messes up the miracle, at least the first time around. Read it for yourself:

…When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

He looked up and said,

“I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes.

Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. (Mark 8:23-25)

Now we all know Jesus didn’t mess up the miracle. He is able to do anything He wants, in any way He chooses. I think He healed the man in this unusual way in order to teach us some things about our spiritual sight.

Just before this healing, Jesus fed thousands of people with a tiny amount of food. He also walked on water, calmed a storm, healed many others, and cast out demons by the handful.

His disciples were near Him, and they watched it all. Yet they still didn’t see.

They still didn’t understand.

Jesus reminded them what He had done, right before their eyes. You can almost see Him shaking His head and asking,

Do you still not understand?” (verse 21)

We can be really slow learners. We can be near the Lord, and still not see Him for who He really is. Things are still blurred.

We see something, a glimpse, and think we understand. Because we comprehend more now than we did before.

But maybe what we see is the equivalent of people who look like trees walking around.

Most of the opening of the eyes of our hearts, occurs progressively, over time.

Most of our spiritual progress can’t be measured by leaps or bounds.

Every conversion is different. Every restoration is unique. But many of us only see dimly when we come to Christ. Then He continues to touch us and restore our sight until it becomes clear.

This miracle illustrates the way He opened my eyes, and continues to open them to new and deeper truths year after year.

As Jesus heals our spiritual sight, we will see Him more and more.

He’s not done yet. He will be faithful to complete this good work He’s begun in each of us.

Does that stir up hope in your heart the way it does for me?

Dear Jesus, Make us see…

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until the fullness of day. Proverbs 4:18

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.

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

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Let’s Choose Humility Over Pride

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I turned from the swing and saw him standing there, fresh cut flowers in hand and a smile on his face.

“I’m sorry. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.”

I embedded my face in his chest and wrapped my arms around him. An apology and flowers weren’t what I was expecting, but I was grateful for both. I breathed in the soft, earthy scent of the lilies and took them inside.

He wasn’t sleeping well, and I knew the early wake up call from our son didn’t help. We’d exchanged some harsh words and tones that morning, and our day hadn’t gotten off to a good start.

But instead of trying to justify himself that afternoon and push the issue, he chose to extend love and grace. He chose humility.

As I stood over the kitchen counter, trimming the stems and arranging the buds in a tall vase, I thought about my husband’s actions. How much better would our relationships be if we chose to grace over our need to be right?

So often, I feel like I’ve lost my ability to breathe if I can’t get someone to see things my way. But the longer I’m married and the more I work to build strong, thriving relationships, the more I see it’s often the way we respond to conflict which makes us grow.

Can you imagine how boring life would be if everyone thought exactly the same way you did? Many times I think it would make things easier, but it is our differences which stretch and grow us.

As often as I find myself in the world of black and white, there is much grey. There are areas where we have to let the Spirit give us discernment and wisdom.

When I dig into the word, it does not tell me how the wise person is the one who asserts her view of every situation and proclaims it as the ultimate truth.

No, James speaks of a different kind of wisdom.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13 NIV

Wisdom is shown through humility and service, not the loudness of our voice.

A wise pastor once told me Jesus didn’t go through his earthly ministry proclaiming, “You’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong, and follow me.” Although there were times, such with the Pharisees, when Jesus pointed out the immorality of people’s actions, he spent much more time healing the sick, binding up the brokenhearted, and leading by example.

There will be times when conflict is necessary and we must speak the truth in love, many disputes are best handled with a simple apology. Even if you are not the person in the wrong, sometimes God calls us to put aside our pride and put the relationship first.

When my husband left work one Tuesday afternoon, he chose humility. He exemplified the very nature of Christ, and chose grace over his need to be right.

And as his wife and someone who often picks the wrong path, I am inspired to follow his example.

I pray God will fill me with his Spirit, so I can extend grace in my time of need.

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

Guest Contributor

 

Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, 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 River of Delights

River of Delights

Post by Angela Parlin

This is my view all week, sunup to sundown.

It’s summer vacation, and our family loves to spend these days at the beach, just a couple hours from home. Our first morning here this year, I opened my Bible to these fitting and beautiful words:

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!

People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house;

You give them drink from your river of delights.

(Psalm 36)

From this day forward, I think I’ll refer to the Atlantic as–The River of Delights.

Which makes me feel like Anne Shirley, but it’s true. Is there anything so irresistible? Crowds pour onto the sand each day in agreement.

The ocean overwhelms me, with shades of blue as far as the eye can see. Something about standing in front of this vast body of water lulls me home inside. When I’m here, I remember–this power is God, this beauty is His, these constant waves roll in like good gifts He’s always giving.

God serves up drinks, from His river of delights. He lays out a feast, from the abundance of His house.

Other scriptures say:

  • He shows us the path to life.
  • He fills us with joy and eternal pleasures.
  • He blesses us.
  • He fills us with good things.
  • It is good to be near God.

We could fill pages with similar lines from Scripture.

Is this how you see God?

Sometimes I’m oblivious to His delights. I miss this part of Him. Yet joy and abundance and life are part of who He is and what He offers us.

I wonder how we ever walk through days without this consciousness.

Maybe delight is crowded out by a critical spirit or cynicism or complaint. Maybe we’re focused on what we bring to the table instead of who God is. Maybe we fail to understand the whole picture of Him or we simply forget.

His living and active Word and His stunning creation repeatedly remind us. We feast on the abundance of His house; we drink from His river of delights. But who?

Who enjoys this abundance? People who take refuge in the shadow of His wings.

When I think of taking refuge in God, I assume there’s danger–some kind of storm. A cancer scare, a searing loss, a terrifying fall or some other difficult trial. Many verses speak of taking refuge in God as our shelter from danger or sickness or troubles.

But I find an interesting connection between taking refuge in the shadow of His wings—and joy + delight + abundance.

What does it mean to take refuge under His wings? Some versions call this hiding ourselves in Him or putting our trust in Him. It also means we find JOY in Him. We seek Him above all else, and we see all these earthly pleasures as gifts He sets before us.

Every sunrise, every sunset. Every ocean. Every mountaintop experience. Every encounter with people we love. Every delicious meal. Every ordinary day. Every vacation or adventure.

It all comes from the abundance of His house, another satisfying drink from His river of delights.

In sickness and in health, through storms or sunny days, may we revel in His gifts, with hearts turned toward God.

May we live, deeply grateful as we hide in Him, taking refuge in the shadow of His wings.

For with you is the fountain of life ~ in your light we see light. Psalm 36:9

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.

Linking with 3D Lessons and Faith Barista.

Pay Attention to Road Signs

Pay Attention to Road Signs

Post by Katie M. Reid

As I dropped off my kids at Vacation Bible School I could hardly stand up. I was depleted. It felt like work to walk up the stairs, to have a conversation and to drive home. In fact, I didn’t go home but went to my husband’s office and crashed on the couch there.

Four months of staying up too late—burning the midnight oil to chase a dream—had taken its toil on my body. I was exhausted and sapped of energy.

I had sacrificed the hallow for the hollow.
I had ignored the warning signs and worn myself out.
I had neglected my post at home in order to type out another post here.
I had left the secure to grasp at the wind.
I had traded the best in pursuit of the good.

Running ragged and on the brink of shut-down, I had to recharge immediately or my battery might die.

I was disappointed in myself for thinking I was invincible. I needed more sleep but had ignored the wise counsel of God, my husband, and others.

I plowed forward, at breakneck speed, right into a heap of exhaustion.

My marriage suffered, my kids felt ignored but it was like I couldn’t stop, even though I knew I was driving in a danger zone.

I had once judged others for being workaholics, but, as I devoted more time to creative things—writing my heart out, recording an album, capturing beauty all around—I saw never-stop-working tendencies rise within me. I was a workaholic but few people knew it because I worked from home.

Hypocrite.

Yet, a strange thing happened. His grace found me in the unraveling.

When my reckless acceleration caused me to swerve—through days, nights and months of striving—He provided an escape ramp to keep me safe.

God used my weary body to get my attention.

Through feeling lousy He woke me up.
Through past mistakes He showed me a better way.
Through almost losing it He provided another chance.

His kindness, in letting my body suffer, revealed my need for repentance, to go His way, not speeding ahead nor lagging behind.

The enemy likes to mess with us, using whatever strategies he can to keep us off course.

He might try to freeze us with fear so we don’t offer what’s in our hands.
Or, if we do offer, he likes to turn our offering into an idol.
Or if we keep offering anyway, he likes to breed jealousy, insecurity or pride in our hearts as we lift up what God gave us, to reflect His glory.

Be mindful of his schemes (see 2 Corinthians 2:11).
Examine yourself to see if your motives are driving you straight towards destruction (see Proverbs 14:12 and Lamentations 3:40).

Release your grip on trying to make things happen.

Learn to unwind in His Presence and trust His timing.

You can experience that wind-in-your-hair freedom that comes from driving down open roads, and pursuing the places and spaces that He gives you. However, please learn from my mistakes, don’t turn down a path that leads to unnecessary injury to you and those with you.

Pay attention to the signs that He posts along the way.

Hebrews 2:1 “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”

Dear God: Oh how we need you. It’s easy to get side-tracked on this earthly journey. Help us to hold fast to Your Word and not wander away. Forgive us for running ahead of You, grieving Your Spirit by thinking we know best. Help us not get hung up on past mistakes but freely accept your grace and walk forward with You. Thank You for protecting us from the enemy. Thank You for shining Your light on our sin. Thank You that as we acknowledge You, You make our ways straight (Proverbs 3:5-8). Amen.

Katie M. Reid Headshot

Katie M. Reid is a Tightly Wound Woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in  the everyday moments of life. She delights in her hubby and four children and their life in ministry. Some of Katie’s favorite things are writing, singing, speaking and photography. She is a contributing writer for Purposeful Faith, God-sized Dreams and enjoys helping others take the next step in their relationship with Jesus and their God-given purpose. Katie would love to connect with you over on her blog, katiemreid.com.

For the Not-So-Shiny Days

Post by: Angela Parlin

Some days, the sun shines, and I jump out of bed early. I slept enough hours without any interruptions, and I feel good. I start the day with the Lord and a run and then the kids come trickling out of their rooms, ready for the eggs I’ve made. Then I head upstairs for a quick shower with some great music to help me get happily ready to start the homeschool day.

Some days.

Other days, it’s much harder to see beauty–because other days look a lot more like chaos. Can you relate?

Maybe someone needed me in the night, or I stayed up late with Jimmy Fallon.

Maybe the kids leave their rooms an hour before the time we’ve set. They forget to complete their morning chores, and so the laundry piles up and the bedrooms are a mess.

Maybe I’m tired and it’s a cloudy day and I don’t have time for quiet time and I didn’t get a run and I haven’t made breakfast and I don’t feel well.

Maybe.

Do you ever think about the back-and-forth of our lives? The up-and-down? Does it frustrate you the way it frustrates me?

I can get on such a roll of seeing-the-beauty days–of good, productive mornings, of day-before preparation, of starting the day out right. But then–something changes. Often, I don’t even see it coming. A cold. A sick kid. A misunderstanding. A big disappointment. Hard work that doesn’t yield results. Whatever it might be.

Then I get on a roll of seeing more chaos than beauty.

The kids are still waiting on me, so I have to quickly figure out how to deal.

How do you deal with days that look more like chaos,
with the cloudy days and your own clouded mind?

Last week, on one of the not-so-shiny days of my life, I learned that I have developed an unfortunate habit. That instead of dealing with the chaos, I try to escape.

After trudging through a rotten morning, I sent the kids off to read in their bedrooms in the afternoon. I was discouraged, and I spent a few minutes praying to the Lord about my problems, asking Him for help.

And then I moved on.

I COULD NOT WAIT to sit down on my comfy sofa to turn on Gilmore Girls, and so I fixed a glass of iced tea and resumed my position.

But as I sat there, I felt a holy conviction.

I knew it wasn’t my own voice, because my voice said–There’s nothing wrong with this!

And that’s true. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Netflix, or many other forms of escape.

But there’s a problem sometimes with the way we use them.

I felt the Spirit saying, Run to Me. Seek Me. Look to Me. And I saw my error.

I realized how often I seek the Lord—and then run off to my own fix.

My fix, which feels comforting at first, always leaves me wanting.

I saw that I was trying to escape my life rather than working through the hard parts, while looking to the Lord for His strength.

So by God’s grace, I started a new habit. I hope it will continue to be the way I deal with the not-so-shiny days.

I’ll seek the Lord, and then I’ll wait on Him alone—especially on the difficult days.

Because as Lamentations 3:25 says, The Lord is good to those who WAIT for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. (ESV)

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. Isaiah 40:31, AMP

 

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.

 

Find Beauty in the Restlessness

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

The feeling swept in with the morning rain clouds, as I sat by the window drinking coffee. Restlessness.

There were no defining edges to it. I couldn’t quite grasp where the emotion came from. It was just there. And it consumed me.

I daydreamed about moving to another town. We’d lived here four years so it was time, right? There were plenty of good reasons to migrate further south.

Like my mom’s stroke last year. Being over five hundred miles away was not ideal, and my parents weren’t getting any younger.

And I won’t even dwell on the winters here. This southern girl learned how to use a snow shovel a few years ago and purchased a new set of all-season tires, but I’d prefer not to have to use either.

Yes, I change of location was exactly what we needed. Wasn’t it? I was sure my restless ache would stop when the scenery became white sand and Palmetto trees.

But as the sun set later that evening and I watched my boys soaking up the last daylight hours, I sensed God speak.

Look for the beauty. Right here. Right now.

I saw the way the rim of the mountains slowly transformed in pink and deep blue right before nightfall. I felt the crisp evening breeze I often longed for on the sultry, humid evenings down south.

I watched the boys play and laugh with friends they’d made at church and smiled when the teacher bragged about my oldest son at a school fundraiser.

Later that week at dinner, I listened to women I’d grown to love share their kids’ latest antics and make plans for summer camping trips, trips to the pool, and marshmallow roasts.

Yes, there was beauty here. In all my restlessness and longing, I was missing it.

Sometimes instead of changing my situation, God changes me.

He wants me to see with his eyes and notice the blessings right in front of me. He is molding me and transforming me, and the some of the biggest, most life-changing transformations start with gratitude.

A full life isn’t made of moments counting down to the next major event. It is made of the moments we count our blessings.

 There may come a time when God moves us closer to my family. He knows how much I miss them during their absence and how I long to savor the time I have left with them.

But he also has an assignment and a ministry for me right here, within the walls of my home and in the community around me. When we are faithful right where we are, God is honored.

 He is glorified when instead of counting the days until my next trip south, I am present in the now.

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14 NIV

Today, if you’re feeling restless and cannot seem to pinpoint why, I encourage you to count. But don’t count the minutes until vacation or naptime or bedtime.

Count blessings.

Instead of counting the minutes, let’s savor the day.

Guest Contributor

Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, 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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