My 3-year old daughter and I were playing a game. She was behind a box “counter”, I stood in front of it: ordering. I was supposed to buy some food, because, this was a restaurant.
I told her I wanted a salad and ice-cream. Trying to be good, but wanting to indulge, this was my kind of order. Add a chocolate dip to the ice cream and this is what summers are made of. I digress…
Anyway, daughter fixed up my food, looked me in the eye, while handing over my imaginary goodies, and declared “Now, you get what you get and you don’t get upset.”
My jaw dropped. She nailed it.
So many of us internally chide our self with this same kind of diatribe, as if God says this to us. As if this is how we are supposed to cope with life. As if, we are meant to get a crumb and tell our stomach to feel okay with it. Now don’t get upset!!!
Surely, I know this verse: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Phil. 4:12)
Yet, somehow I think we’ve got it all wrong. God never told us to lie.
Yet, we’re convinced we must show the world we are strong, we tell our self, “We get what we get and we don’t get upset.”
Outside we look like a gracious kid at a candy shop, while inside we are throwing a fit like an irate toddler because we’re unseen by the world, unrecognized for who we are and uncared for.
I notice Paul, in the verse above, mentions the words, “I have learned. . .” Why are we ashamed of learning? Of journeying? Of admitting we feel the struggle?
So often, we already can sense when this is the case with someone. Why do we hide so?
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18).
Today, consider this: In the light of God’s glory, there is no shame in transforming.
Does your mind hone in on what you do wrong, more often what God is doing right?
Maybe you’re quick to notice your quick temper, the error of all your past ways — your choices, your parenting style, your marriage mannerisms. Or, maybe you’ve made some horrible financial decisions and found yourself at a loss. Usually, there is an area in our lives we hate; sometimes it is our thighs.
We are good at circling problem areas and critiquing them. Somehow, as women, we give ourselves permission to whine to each other. We think, it’s fine to share our worst, don’t brag about your best though.
So, we do. And, we learn to do this in our mind too.
I hate that I hate playing silly games with my kids. I don’t listen well either. I always give in to my kids. They always, nearly get what they want. Oh, I’ve been afraid to do spankings. I have a whole list of things I can improve on; I am aware of them.
I think of them as often as I think about what to eat next. They are a record of wrongs that follows me. Which is why, I needed some reprieve from them. And, fortunately, I found it.
I was in the kitchen, 6-year old so came in and said, “Hey Mommy, earlier, I almost ate the box of cookies in the pantry, but then I didn’t.”
I laughed it off.
The next day, he looked at me and said, “Mommy, I almost pulled all the toilet paper off the roll, but then I didn’t.”
And, it was at this point that wisdom hit me like a hammer: I can choose to see what I am not doing, or I can choose to see how I am improving. By focusing on how I am improving I remember important things.
I am being sanctified, upgraded day-by-day, into the image of Christ (1 Cor. 6:11).
I am moving from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:8).
I am growing (Ro. 8:29).
We can’t look at a day and demand of it what God is doing over a year. I felt peace land on me. I felt peace land on my son as I looked on him with proud eyes. And, I imagined how God must look on me, when I try, when I improve and when I ease up on myself.
My friend Bev Sheasby of Liberated Living Ministries has been helping me limp across the finish line of a very hard season. She says wise and beautiful things that come at just the right moment. Words of affirmation, wisdom, and encouragement. She’s been such a comfort to me.
We recently had the loving privilege of handing our long-term foster daughter back into her birthmother’s restored arms.
Simultaneously, our oldest son became a Marine.
That same week, our oldest daughter eloped. This was a blessing, we are thrilled for the happy couple. But it has just been one thing after another.
And then another.
We welcomed an injured foster placement that same week. I may be a glutton for punishment, but actually, she has been a delightful distraction. It’s an honor to care for her.
Still, sending adult children off into the great beyond, I wonder… was it enough? Did I teach them everything they needed to know?
And I am not of the mindset that the Jesus I love was wholly made theirs simply by my prose. Scripture memory, “Jesus Loves Me,” and “Larry and the Giant Cucumber” are a start, He will have to take them to the finish.
But what about these “temporary” sons and daughters? There’s a chance they’ll hardly remember me? Let alone the whispered prayers or the lullabies of a Jesus who adored them, unto His death. I panicked, not so much in a lapse of faith, but a lack of confidence – a state of weariness. That sinking feeling, you know the one, where you feel you must be everything to everyone, every second of every day.
And something Bev said came into my mind, as I let some tears fall and whispered some small, but heartfelt prayers for healing.
“Within the seed is the potential for the entire plant.”
In my quest to provide for all, I realize what I often forget is how very small I am. Barely a seed myself, yet I think I must do it all and be all and fix all.
Alas, if I planted an apple seed, I could water it – but would it be me that would turn it into a tree? Would I be responsible for ensuring it produces a harvest? Could I even accomplish this? Even if I wanted to?
Furthermore, if I planted an apple seed and then I moved to a different farm in another state and left it to the elements, would it not be watered by the sky? Fed by the sun? And pruned by the wind? Isn’t it completely likely, aside from placing the seed in the earth, the earth would take care of the rest?
Within the seed is the potential for the entire plant. My comfort and rest come from this. I will continue to plant the seed and trust the Maker of all to finish the rest.
“The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.” Deuteronomy 28:8 (NIV)
Jami Amerine is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her onFacebook or Twitter.
It’s number 5 that really gets me; I try so hard to be perfect, so to break the porcelain veneer is like dropping grandma’s ancient heirloom. I feel crushed. I feel caught. I feel like someone might want to yell in my face.
Yet, when my son started pointing fingers at everyone else but himself. When he couldn’t admit doing things wrong. . . well, all fingers pointed back at me. I can’t blame on him, what he learns from me. He’s really just a reflection of the environment that I create for him.
I declared it was high-time I start to change something – about me. And, sooner rather than later. It is far easier to say you want to change than it ever is to actually do it.
I still tried. I noticed when I got that little prick of anxiety in my heart and admitted why: I pushed a little too hard on my husband to get my way. I paid attention to the small sense of guilt I previously ignored and acknowledged my wrong: I brought up a sensitive topic at the worst time. I looked at my child’s face when I chided with too much force and reacted: I am sorry.
Nope. And, I wasn’t perfect. Sometimes, my pride inhibited my humility. Pride made me take an hour, where humility would have shown up right away. But, I am learning: it is a learning process.
Sometimes, the act of being honest with yourself is the first act. You have to cheer yourself on for this. I am doing this. YAY!
Maybe you need to join me? Have you built up defenses so high even you can’t see over them to the truth? Have you found that you don’t ever want to be wrong.
This verse has been such an encouragement to me: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Pet. 5:6)
I used to think an apology meant I needed to go dwell in a dumpster or something. Now I see an apology is a welcome by God to a higher place with him. It is my letting go so that I can welcome his glory and peace in. When I do this, I find my way back to his heart more easily.
She infuriated me. The one I called friend was acting much like foe. She was acting selfish, wrong and mean.
How could you? I thought you cared about me. How did I ever get tricked?
Somehow, I had convinced myself that we were in this thing called life together; yet, her actions silently hand-motioned otherwise. She knew what she was doing. And, she did it anyway.
All I could think, at this point was, I need to boot her out of my life, she can’t be trusted, she is not who I thought she was.
I needed to protect myself. You can’t be friends with women walking with scalpels, can you?
Oh, I say that often, because He catches me in my tracks.
But God…he says, love your frenemies: “But love your (fr)enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” (Luke 6:35)
What frenemy do you need to love?
God inspires me to think a new way towards the offender. I pray I can see the new thought process through.
Take a look:
New thought: That injurer is likely just as injured as I. My prayer: God, give me strength to love ____ & their weakness. Amen.
New thought: They have their reasons too; I can’t judge their heart. My prayer: God help me to see their side in the process of all this…
New thought: I need no expectations of man because Jesus met all my expectations on the cross. My prayer: God, may I truly believe you are – enough.
And, while I might not be ready to talk to her; I am ready to grab God’s hand and start processing it all. Sometimes, just taking this small step towards forgiveness is half the battle.
A few weeks ago my Pastor began talking about all things summer. Summer is great and all, but as a single with no kids, my summer pretty much just looks like the rest of the year. My church schedule does lighten a bit. But long gone are my college days where I had summers off. For so many of my friends, however, a summer schedule is a real thing. Summer can be amazing! It can hold endless down time, late start mornings, night owl bedtimes, unhurried rhythms, traveling adventures and untapped brain power.
On the other hand, summer can bring a whole new set of unintended circumstances. I have learned that so much idle and unpurposed time can be just the open door the enemy desires. My Pastor has been determined for our church to not fall into a summer slump or to fall victim to the schemes of the enemy or simply going through the motions. I love that his heart is for us to experience as much of God or more of God than we would during the rest of the year.
Summer doesn’t discriminate, nor does it hold back on the issues of life. Relationship drama, financial distress, all manner of loss, hurt feelings, etc… can all be experienced during these hotter than necessary months. It is just as important to stay plugged in to both the Lord and to community.
Do not forsake the ‘Secret Place’.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
The upside of summer, if your schedule does become laid back, is just that, it’s laid back. There is no need to be somewhere all the time at a certain time. That sounds like the perfect opportunity to dive deep into time with God, even if you have littles running around. My amazing friend Lindsey has literally been living this out with her 4 kids. She is a single, stay at home mom. She has been walking through really hard marital challenges, but she decided to let that bring her closer to God instead of push her away. Then, she made the best decision. She decided to bring her kids along on the journey. They read devotions together along with books about missionaries. They pray and worship. It is beautiful to watch her kids fall in love with the Savior simply because she has chosen to put God first and cultivate an atmosphere of intimacy with the Lord. She doesn’t know where this extra time comes from. All she knows is that He multiplies it as she continues to be obedient in keeping Him the center of her family.
Do not forsake a persevering spirit.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
Seeing as how, trials and hardships don’t take a break during the summer, it’s key for us to keep up the fight. The enemy is after our minds and emotions and callings and lives. When we become complacent or too familiar with God and the things of God, he takes full advantage of those moments.
It is extremely tempting to become inactive and forsake our time with God or serving or being committed to the Church. I want this summer to be the opposite. I want to have some of the most intimate times with God. I want to have some of the best times in corporate gatherings. I want to have some of the wildest adventures with community. I want to have some of the sweetest times meeting the needs of those around me.
Summer is not the time to give in to an anything goes mentality. It is not the time to numb out. Now is the time to press in and watch a mighty move of God take place.
How are you or can you keep from numbing out and pursue a deeper relationship with the Lord this summer?
About Karina Allen
Karina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.
Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”
I wasn’t sure what happened. One day we were the best of friends and the next… I don’t know, there was this immeasurable distance between us.
For two years my friend and I were inseparable. Our kids played together, we vacationed together with our husbands and now, I couldn’t explain it but something was terribly wrong.
The person I spent hours on the phone with sharing heartbreak and joy, now wouldn’t give me a minute of her time.
After days of chill between us I worked up the nerve to ask her.
“Is something wrong? Is it me?”
As if she had no earthly idea what I was talking about she coyly answered,
“No, I’m good.”
But something wasn’t good. Something was terribly wrong. I felt like I was left alone in the middle of a dance floor. Abandoned.
And then I felt suckered punched. Betrayed.
She knew all my secrets—where my bones were buried.
As the days went on I prayed to God for answers while I tried on my own to figure out what happened. Every morning I woke up with a big fat knot in the pit of my gut while in my head I scoured each word of every conversation we recently had for a clue.
Was it the joke about the gas station, not knowing which grade of gas to choose? I was only teasing her. We joked liked that all the time.
Was she put off because I gave her advice in the gym? But she asked.
There’s nothing quite as devastating as losing a close friend and not knowing what took her from you.
Every day I grew more desperate for answers. I prayed. I waited. I cried. I prayed. I waited. I bawled. I prayed I waited. I wailed! Why wasn’t God answering my prayer? What could be the harm in answering this prayer?
I never stopped to consider it wasn’t all about me.
Eventually the tears dried up and life moved on. Moved on without answers.
And we moved on—my family, away to another city.
In my heart of hearts I knew God knew what happened between my friend and me and that in and of itself gave me peace.
My ex-bestie and I exchanged Christmas cards for a few years and talked few times. But months turned into years and I came to the realization there are some things perhaps God just doesn’t want us to know. Secrets that are to remain hidden.
Several moves and eighteen years later, my husband, David and I attended a wedding for the daughter of another dear friend. At there at the reception across the room between the coconut shrimp and the carving station stood my ex-bestie. It had been years since we’d seen each other.
I walked over and we exchanged hugs and for the next few minutes did what old friends do when they haven’t talked in years. We caught up making small talk about our kids, husbands and nothing. Around the time I thought, that’s that, the conversation took and unanticipated turn.
“Christy” she said, “I need to apologize to you.”
I was truly taken aback. What is this about, I thought?
She went on.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry for ruining our friendship—one of the best friendships I’ve ever had. I’m sorry for pulling away. I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time. It wasn’t about you. It was me.”
She went on to explain what had been going on in her heart and why she grew distant. The “what” I didn’t know.
I stood in relief of my 18 year old question and more so marveled at God’s handi-work of the process.
In this hurry-up and fix-it world, we want what we want when we want it. All those many years ago I was hurting and wanted answers.
But God is not as much concerned about time as He is about the timing. We want a quick fix. He wants to fix hearts.
He wants to heal us.
He wants to change us.
Grow our character to be more in-line with His. And that takes a providential process.
Maybe you’re dealing with an unanswered prayer right now. It could be a broken relationship or maybe it’s something else entirely. I assure you the moment you prayed a plan was laid. Just because you don’t get your answer right away, doesn’t mean it isn’t coming.
Because sometimes it’s not all about us.
“He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times and dates the Father has set by his own authority.'” Acts 1:7
Christy is an award winning writer, national speaker, wife, mother, mother-in-law, and first time grandma! She is passionate about helping women see God working for their good in the midst of their circumstances.
When Christy isn’t with family, speaking or writing, you can find her on the tennis court chasing a fuzzy yellow ball. You can connect with Christy on her blog, Joying in the Journey, Facebook, and Twitter
I know many of you are like me, we want our prayers answered.So how do we pray with confident assurance that God will hear and answer our prayers?
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him,” says 1 John 5:14-15.
What a powerful promise! God says he will give us “anything” we ask for according to His will. Isn’t that amazing? It doesn’t say that he might answer the prayer, or that sometimes He’ll say “no.” He says “we have what we have asked of him.” That’s 100 percent of the time! Granted it might not be in our timing, but it’s always in God’s perfect timing. The answer is, “Yes.”
But there is one caveat: We must ask according to God’s will.
Ah…now that’s the tricky part. How can we possibly know God’s will? The only way to truly know God’s will is to pray the Scriptures. As it says in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
When I (Sally) was a young mom and a new believer in Christ, I had never actually prayed out loud. So when I stepped into my first Moms in Prayer meeting, I listened. Just listened. For six weeks I prayed along in my heart, but didn’t say a word. I loved hearing the other women’s Holy Spirit-directed prayers for my children. Yet I was too afraid to pray out loud. After about six weeks, I was brave enough to pray the Scripture for my child out loud. The Holy Spirit gave me the courage to speak out His Word, to pray His truth for my son. What an amazing experience, praying for my son, hearing other moms pray for my son. This was my new top priority for my kids.
God’s answers poured out like a flood that first year; our group witnessed dramatic miracles. God healed children of major illnesses. We saw changes in kids’ attitudes and behaviors. We prayed that every child would hear the good news—and He brought a Good News Club to our campus. And several teachers at our elementary school accepted Christ as Savior!
Eventually, I was leading my own Moms in Prayer group. We’d pray for our public school teachers adapting verse Acts 26:18: “May [teacher’s name] open his/her eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ.”
One day a mom came into the group upset about a certain teacher. I said, “That’s the teacher we’re going to pray for today!” And every week we prayed for her. As we prayed week after week for this teacher, God grew our love for her. Soon, she came to know the Lord, and my two youngest got to be in her class. I felt so privileged to be able to talk with her about the Lord and about prayer. It was amazing to watch and see her grow in Christ. But that wasn’t the only teacher that became a Christian on that public school campus. Eleven other teachers came to Christ as we prayed Acts 26:18 over them!
Want to see God at work? Pray the Scriptures over the people in your life. How do you know if God is going to answer your prayer? If you pray according to His will. And His will is the mighty Word of God, which never comes back void. It always fulfills His purpose and His plan.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:8-11
My prayer for each one of you, is that you will “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16. And every day has a time of need.
Want to learn how to remain unshaken in our crazy world? Sally Burke, the president of Moms in Prayer International, and Cyndie Claypool de Neve explain how in their new book, Unshaken. Want to go deeper? Experience what it really means to be unshaken through the innovative companion study guide.
Enjoy the peace and power of praying with other women for your children. Visit www.MomsInPrayer.org to learn more.
Last night, I told my son, “Don’t get out of bed after I put you to sleep or we won’t be able to eat pie for breakfast.”
An hour later he was downstairs and next to me. It broke my heart. The fun of eating the mud pie we prepared the night before – for a breakfast party while my husband was out of town, was now going to have to be rescheduled. I wanted to give, but now I had to take away.
For many of us, we believe God is always taking away just like I did from my son. We believe God is constantly removing goodness from our life, food from our table and providence for our future – because, we figure, we are messing up somehow.
It is easy to fall into this mind of thinking: I must have done something wrong. God is angry at me. I’ll never be blessed. I’ll always be stuck.
Yet, looking at the Word of God, paints a much different picture. I hope these verses encourage you. I pray they remind you what a provider God is. You can never fall out of his love.
12 Verses to Remind You: God will Provide
And my God will fully supply your every need according to his glorious riches in the Messiah Jesus. (Phil. 4:19)
Pop Quiz: What is 1 thing you likely take for granted, yet could bring monumental joy, growth and connection if paid attention to it?
Answer: Your marriage.
Friends, most days I hardly look at it: I rush through breakfast, trying to start my day; I give a little hello near the Keurig; I listen and quickly respond; I go through the bare-bottom motions, trying to make sure I’m at least good enough to get by; I get ready to watch TV instead of to connect; I respond based on my own opinions, rather than hearing his; I focus on the kids and then remember he’s there too.
Uh-oh. Can I admit to you all? I am not the model wife.
And, while it pains me to write this, I have found such encouragement in the book, “A Wife’s Secret to Happiness” by Jen Weaver.
Right off, in the first chapter, her words meet my heart: “God will not call us anywhere his presence does not go with us,” she says, “He will not ask us to do what he has not equipped us to complete. The Lord longs to lead our marriages into spacious place, interwoven with his peace and strength…the day you made your vows He participated in an active agreement, invisible, yet majestic in glory.”
Thank you, God…we are not doing this thing called marriage alone. The Creator of our universe is creating something new, as we listen, go and respond with him. He is working within the confines of our arguments, annoyances, and mishaps to create space, love and peace. Bring it, God! I need that.
To ignite his power, one question remains: Will we let him in to work – by listening, seeking and following or will we continue doing the same ‘ole stuff?
What does it look like to let Him work?
I’m finding, it’s:
Prayer over panic.
Listening rather than responding in flesh.
Trusting God’s timeline to change, rather than my own.
Seeking to notice his good, before his bad.
Jen Weaver breaks down specific ways to see these high and lofty goals through (Thanks Jen!):
Write down index card prayers. Carry them with you.
Ask God to bless your husband right when you’re in the heat of battle.
Remind yourself to welcome God’s presence. Put reminders around your house with verses.
Scribe 5 pain points you have about your marriage. Bring them to God and ask them how he wants you to work them out.
Remind yourself, through scripture, how God has been there for you and won’t abandon you now.
Marriages that work, take work. If I’ve learned anything – it’s this. But, I’ve also learned, when God is at work, things seamlessly fall into place. Like Tetris. Bing! Connection happens.
Where do you need to let God take the lead? How might he want to put things together again? How might his small nudges be leading you to a greater outpouring of love?
Love that looks like:
A listening ear.
An open fist.
A generous portion of time.
An opening of your whole heart.
A letting down of guard.
A soft-spoken word.
An offering of grace.
A handing-over to God (Re: the past).
An excitement for the future.
Reliance on the Sustainer, Overcomer, and Creator.
Wherever God is calling you – if you step in, He’ll meet you there.