hope

Stress Less in Your Mess!

 

I have an aversion to mess. It curls my toenails. It gives me heartburn. I snap my eyes shut to “mess making” commercials because they tempt me to hurl myself into the TV and say “STOP – DON’T DO IT!”

So for this girl who was voted “Most Organized” in her graduate school class, I’m seriously struggling with my new mess. What does it look like? A bird’s eye view would reveal my serious health issues with a side of special needs parenting on steroids. In short, I’m a tad stressed in my mess.

I know we all have mess. I know life only gets messier, but for me, the messier it gets, the more frustrated I get. I want my life to be like checking off clean, neat boxes on an online form. No blurry edges, no smears – both aesthetically pleasing and efficient.

Newsflash to self: “Life isn’t that way!” Perhaps I was spoiled by a relatively “mess free” beginning to my life? Maybe it set an expectation that life should always be a walk down Perfection Lane?

Perhaps you remember that moment when your life changed from clean screen boxes to messy streaks and struggles? Maybe your struggles started early in life? Maybe your struggles are behind you but leave their impression on the pages of your memory? Maybe they never end and stain your daily life, bleeding off the page of your sanity?

I’ve been quiet over the last year and a half. My life has honestly been more overwhelming than I care to share. Even now, I struggle to write this. I stress over what to share and not. The thought of hurting anyone in my life by sharing this doubles my soul over in pain. I wonder whether you’ll think me indulgent in my distress or see something of yourself in my struggle. I wonder if you’ll think I use the word “struggle” too much! I can’t decide how much to share because I’m still trying to process my new reality, and I fear your opinion of whether I’m handling it all well or not. With everything I do, I consider whether it will cause me more pain. I run like a mad woman from anything that might cause me an ounce more pain! I know, I’m a “pain chicken!”

All that stress aside, I think I’m supposed to share my mess. For selfish reasons, I think it helps me heal. But what I love most is that sharing my mess invites you to face yours with me. And when we face our mess, we can find our way to freedom in Christ.

Although I am wrestling with Christ and my faith now in a BIG way, one thing I know is that each time I return to Him, He is always there for me with loving hands of forgiveness. Even after all the offensive questions I’ve asked Him lately! I forget His gifts constantly, and try to strive without Him, but each time, I run out of gas. I find myself in a heaping pile of tears and self loathing, because only He is enough to take on my pain and my mess.

So, I’m trying to hand my mess over to Him. Want to try with me? Let’s try not to forget that He is always there for us, even when we have sought solace in life’s pleasures to seal off our hurting hearts and His love.

He can handle our mess. Even better, He molds it into a beautiful sculpture of hope that strengthens our souls. Please help us all remember this when we sink into suffering and self indulgence threatens to steal us from His embrace! That is my prayer for you, me and us all today!

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

hope, Love, Power in Christ, Self Control

Embracing Christ in Chaos

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Have you ever lost Christ somewhere between frantic phone calls and forms? That was me this past month!

August hit our family like Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. Blustery, unforgiving, and abundant in chaos, one crisis after the next landed on our doorstep. Wave after wave, I gasped for air, longing for sunlight with little reprieve.

A Break in the Clouds

Although I’m still gasping a bit, God’s steadfast beams are beginning to peek through the angry clouds still hanging over our home. And I’ll bet you might be feeling tossed about as well! Whether you’re rebuilding your life from scratch or knee-deep in back to school craziness, new beginnings can be overwhelming.

Dwell in Him

For me, the sunlight began to edge its way in a few weeks ago upon the wise words of author Micah Maddox. She shared her own chaotic month. Although preparing her children to return to school, launching her new book Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World and having just moved, she still found peace. And that peace resided in Psalm 27. In the simple reminder to dwell in Christ.

Hearing these words, something in me broke. It had arrested my stress. It broke the chain on my heart and released my soul. A door unlocked and freed me from my self-imposed prison.

My soul rejoiced in praise for a reunion with the One who is there with us everyday, every moment. The One who I’d forgotten over the last few weeks. The One who always stands ready with boundless love and a warm embrace. What solace in falling into His arms. I’d missed my Jesus hugs! Why had I forgotten to ask? Why had I ignored His still, small voice?

Contentment Anytime

I’d forgotten Paul’s teaching that Christ provides contentment in any circumstance, not just in the moments when life is good (Phillipians 4:11). I’d forgotten to fling myself at Christ’s feet when chaos first strikes. Not wait until I’ve hit rock bottom. To seek Christ with unrelenting steadfastness at the start. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

A Spirit of Power, Love and Self Control

Author Holley Gerth has also reminded me of truth during this dark time. Just the title of her soon to be released book, Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely, has led me to back to the same verse that God has been speaking over me for the last few months. God hasn’t given me a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and self control (2 Timothy 1:7). That even in the darkness, God has given me the spirit of a fierce-hearted warrior princess. That in my times of distress, I’m to fight to seek Him. That I already have the power within me to fight the darkness. The power of the Holy Spirit that dwells within me and every believer who has accepted Christ as her Savior. What power could be more effective or magnificent? We just have to press our soul’s call button and it’s there! Say a prayer and it is there!

And not only are we constantly blessed with His incomparable power, but His limitless, unconditional love. A love like nothing we’ll ever experience from humans in this world. A love more consistent, dutiful, pure, and complete than any human can ever give. And again, it is there as His offering to us, anytime, anywhere. Isn’t that just soul-restoring?!

As if God’s supernatural power and love weren’t enough, the Holy Spirit also grants us a spirit of self control. Not just self control to prevent us from eating that tasty potato chip to quell the anxiety our darkness brings, but self control to reach out to Him in our time of need. Not to reach for the remote, our credit cards, or something else to distract us from our pain. But to reach for the Word, to pray, to connect with Him in an intimate way that soothes our present suffering. To hand over our fears, anxieties, darkness, and pain to the One who can handle it all so much better than we ever could alone.

So as much as I’ve hated being away from you wonderful women the last few weeks, I’m thankful for the chaos I’m starting to embrace. I’m thankful for the Jesus embrace that produced this post. I’m grateful that I waited patiently in His time to hear it. Because He knew the message that I was to send. He knew the words I’d stopped and started several times before weren’t His, but mine. That my words couldn’t make His difference. That only His could. That regardless of our circumstances, we must remember to dwell in Him always and fight with the spirit of power, love, and self control that He has given us.

I’m praying for you in the midst of your own chaos! Be brave and fight to seek Him through the darkness!

REFLECT:
1. How can you fight to find Christ in your present chaos?
2. If you’re not in chaos now, how can you prepare to fight to find Christ when darkness strikes?

RESOURCES:
1. Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World by Micah Maddox (Releases TODAY! Order here!)
2. Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely by Holley Gerth (Releases Oct 3rd. Preorder now for awesome giveaways!)

GIVEAWAY!
Leave a comment by September 30th to be entered to win your very own copy of  Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World by Micah Maddox (*THIS IS A CHANGE*)! Winner will be emailed in early October.  Bonus for bloggers: If you’re the winner, I’ll feature your blog on mine and on social media during October!

Congrats to our August giveaway winner, Maureen B! Since she’s also a blogger, I’ll be featuring her blog this month! Click here to enjoy!

FOR READERS: September Inspiration!

Be inspired by other moms braving back to school and new beginnings! Click here to read their stories!

FOR BLOGGERS: Welcome to the Mom-ventures Monthly Link Up!

September Theme: Back to School & New Beginnings

  • Feel free to share a post recounting how Christ has seen you through this busy back to school season or simply any new beginning!
  • Insert the button & link up link: Include this image with link up URL in your participating blog posts. That way, your blog visitors can click their way straight to the party!
  • Leave 2 Comments: Please choose 2 link up posts. Leave an encouraging comment on each.
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Connection, hope

She Hopes

She Speaks Photo Book and Nametag

Heart hammering, I edged my way through throngs of busy women sporting identical teal tote bags. Which was more terrifying? Being a first-time attendee, knowing no one, or being a green-as-grass writer at a writers conference? As panic set in, I settled for a three-way tie.

We all arrived filled with hope. Many literally toted hope in the rustling pages of book proposals for prospective publishers. Others hoped to make life-long friendships. Like me, some hoped to feel qualified enough to be there and to find a place amongst so many accomplished women. And yes, we all hoped to find a friendly meal partner!

Last weekend, hope was palpable in the air like the thick North Carolina humidity blanketing the conference center. The She Speaks Conference had begun!

Riding waves of emotion, I asked myself…

What am I doing here?

How did this science girl end up at a writers conference?

I suppose only God can answer those questions. But I do know that the road there has been weary, full of almosts, broken dreams, and crushed hope. Yet that same road has forged my imperfect story that I was there to learn how to share.

I soon learned that my tattered story also had companions to spare.

In an attempt to quell my raging nerves and seek peace in some sort of connection with at least a sliver of the 800 perfectly coiffed and accomplished women surrounding me, I started asking questions.

Do you have any publisher or agent appointments?

What is the subject of your book proposal?

Little did I know that these questions would build a beautiful vulnerability bridge between us.

Each She Speaks sister seemed to have a story like mine. Stories that dethroned the mythical lives I’d assigned them minutes earlier.
• An adorable young mom shared the devastating loss of her husband.
• Another bubbly sister recounted how her young son passed unexpectedly.
• Beautiful single moms shared the pain of divorce.
• An accomplished writer revealed her struggle with the shame of being a teen mom.
• Some sweet moms shared struggles with their faith and their journeys back to God.
• A spunky mama and I even bonded over toilet training our teens with special needs.

But even as heavy as these conversations became, they all returned to God’s grace, the gateway to hope (2 Thessalonians 2:16). Each story underlined God’s power to transform our troubles into a door of hope (Hosea 2:15). These simple truths became our unspoken anthem. They reverberated throughout the conference center with as much power as the mammoth amps bathing us in Elevation’s praise music.

So, my She Speaks sisters, may God’s grace dwell within you as you fulfill your calling.  Run your race with grace as the Holy Spirit fills you with His power. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV 1984).

I’ll see you before your door of hope when we meet again!

Learn more about the ladies of She Speaks! Visit this link now to be connected with their blogs, all on one page! Be sure to swing back frequently, as more blogs will be added through August 31st!

Reflect:
1. How have hope and God’s grace intertwined in your life?
2. How has God blessed you with vulnerability bridges?

Dive Deeper: Why Hope? Grace! By John Piper

Giveaway!
Win a $20 Target gift card! Just leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win. Winner will be chosen on July 31st!

 

 

 

Mom-ventures Monthly Link Up

FOR BLOGGERS: Welcome to the Mom-ventures Monthly Link Up!

Theme This Month: She Speaks Shares 2017 – If you attended, feel free to share a blog post recalling your SS experience or even your most favorite post – whatever suits you, honors SS, and glorifies God!

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  • Leave 2 Comments: Please choose 2 link up posts. Leave an encouraging comment on each.
  • Share on Social Media! Share this link up post and your favorite posts from the link up!
  • Tell your Followers! Share this link up with your email subscribers so they can join the party too!