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!
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Connection, Kindness

Choose Kindness

shutterstock_160575743A few years ago, my son was super into origami. Spending countless hours meticulously bending and folding paper into mini masterpieces, he protected his crafts with a ferocity rivaling a mother dragon. As only a nine-year-old boy would, he proudly displayed his creations in his bedroom’s origami museum to protect and admire his labors.

That’s why I nearly fainted when he offered one of his freshly crafted origami cranes to a stranger.

We had just come out of the library that balmy summer afternoon. Bustling along, clicking errands off our To Do list, I prepared to squeeze myself into our tin can of a hot minivan. Just before the leather seat threatened to scorch my hamstrings, I heard a little voice mumble something indistinctive in another direction. Realizing it was my son’s, and determined to attack our next task, I turned to bark some version of mama orders like “Get in the car! We’ve got things to do and can’t be late to pick up your sister!” But my “mama ire” was quickly stalled by a disheveled elderly man sitting alone in his car. Panning over to my son, I soon gathered that he was attempting a conversation with our chronologically gifted friend.

Like a freight train screeching to a halt to spare someone sprawled across the tracks, my attention laser-beamed on my son. Why is he talking to this man? Doesn’t he know not to talk to strangers? Plus, this particular stranger looked next in line for the Curmudgeon of the Year award, complete with curling lip.

“Sir, would you like my crane?” my son interjected through my protective panic.

And then it hit me… yes, my son knew all of those things, yet he chose kindness.

He chose to step across those invisible boundaries we erect for ourselves and our children. Ones grounded in good intention, but dividing us from real connection. Ones that mean to protect us and our children from harm – borne out of responsibility – but sometimes fueled by fear.

As our curmudgeonly friend’s face transformed into a picture of grace received, I knew God was whispering through my nine-year-old. I could hear his tender voice lift me on waves of eternal hope with these reminders…

• Busyness blames, but kindness cares.
• Fear kills kindness. Kindess bears love. God is love.
• Kindness can be an act of worship – paying it forward in God’s name.
• Kindness can be His love expressed, and there is nothing greater. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
• Kindness can be sacrifice – of time, of energy, of prized possessions. Yet Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for us. Let’s follow His lead.

Like my son’s origami, God bends and shapes us to prepare to add us to His eternal museum in heaven. We are His masterpieces (Ephesians 2:10). As His masterpieces, let’s keep fear from leaving us reluctant to abide in His love, balking at our chances to choose kindness. Dare to choose kindness, as God boldly chooses grace for us everyday.

Reflect:

1. What is one small act of kindness you can integrate into your daily life?
2. How can you push fear aside to fuel love and kindness?

Resources:
A Case for Kindness by Lisa Barrickman
Listen, Love, Repeat by Karen Ehman

August Giveaway!
Leave a comment to be entered to win a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card! Winner will be emailed in early September.

Congrats to our July Giveaway winner, Lindsey Z.! Check out her blog here!

Post Featured!

blossom-in-faith-logo6I’m honored that this post was featured in the 9/14/17 Blossom in Faith Newsletter as a #FreshlyPickedFind! Thanks for your support, Kelly Basham!

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Mom-ventures Monthly Link Up

FOR READERS: August Inspiration!

Be inspired by the incredible women of She Speaks 2017! Click here to read their stories!

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

August Theme: 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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rest

Too Busy!

 

Most of the things we need in order to be most fully alive never come from busyness. They grow out of rest. – MARK BUCHANAN

I can’t keep up!

The laundry, dishes, errands, extracurriculars, doctors appointments, homework, lunches, backpacks, school activities… it all comes at me like a freight train on a treadmilling loop.

It has all become so overwhelming that I’ve instituted something I call “rest checking.” Each week, I scroll through my calendar until I find an “opening” for rest. Until I find it, I feel my throat closing up a little with each passing busy, congested, over-productive day. Once I’ve found it, I find release… physically, mentally, spiritually.

But isn’t it sad that we have to search for rest? Shouldn’t it be a given?

Apparently, not in Western culture. We’re expected to Continue reading “Too Busy!”

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Too Busy!

 

Most of the things we need in order to be most fully alive never come from busyness. They grow out of rest. – MARK BUCHANAN

I can’t keep up!

The laundry, dishes, errands, extracurriculars, doctor’s appointments, homework, lunches, backpacks, school activities… it all comes at me like a freight train on a treadmilling loop.

It has all become so overwhelming that I’ve instituted something I call “rest checking.” Each week, I scroll through my calendar until I find an “opening” for rest. Until I find it, I feel my throat closing up a little with each passing busy, congested, over-productive day. Once I’ve found it, I find release… physically, mentally, spiritually.

But isn’t it sad that we have to search for rest? Shouldn’t it be a given?

Apparently, not in Western culture. We’re expected to bake cookies for our kiddos’ benefit while conference-calling and cooking dinner for our family… and squeezing in a folded piece of laundry while dinner’s in the oven.

I contend that we were made for rest – literally. Aren’t we made in God’s image? And didn’t God, the creator of the universe and Lord over all – even smartphones on which we pack our e-calendars – rest on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2)? Does the Bible say to stay busy until you run yourself ragged? Is this how we should honor Him?

Last time I checked, no! Although He warns against idleness, His example clearly supports a balance of work and rest (Proverbs 31:27; Genesis 2:2).

We all need time to physically rest, to spiritually rest, to fill our tanks.

If we don’t rest physically, our immune systems are depleted and our neural circuitry is overwhelmed. We get sick and anxiety and depression strike. My kids will tell you that I become an over-stimulated ADD mommy-monster!

If we don’t rest spiritually, we become raisin-souled – displaying anti-fruit-of-the spirit qualities like crankiness, harsh judgment, and narcissism.

Why are we determined to idolize busyness when it can wreak such havoc?

First, let’s examine why we became so busy. The American Dream is a fantastic thing, but I’m afraid we’ve chosen the Extreme Games version. What started out as an earnest and worthy ode to working hard and making something of our lives has morphed into a perceived obligation to “work hard” at everything we do… even rest. Heaven forbid we not schedule a “leisure activity” during that 45 minutes between gymnastics and choir practice.

Further, our culture commonly advises us to schedule everything, including rest! I’m guilty! But scheduling itself can be exhausting!

When I try to make a doctors appointment these days, aligning my schedule with the office’s is as simple as a root canal. Each week, I’ve had to add a list called “calendar additions” to my To Do list. Scheduling seems to dive-bomb me incessantly… Sometimes I just want to duck and cover and let the “scheduling bombs” fall where they may.

And sometimes I do… I turn off my smartphone, power down my laptop, tell the kids and hubby that I’m taking a nap… But even then, my mind races… I struggle to stamp out my brain’s blaze of baseline to-do-listing… Then I have too much in my brain to enumerate or mnemonic into memory… So inevitably, my smartphone lures me from beneath the sheets and I’m recording all the things that I need to do, but shouldn’t be adding to my list because I should be resting…

What I should be thinking is “I should follow God’s example to rest.” I should put down my smartphone in the name of the Lord. I should ask Him to wash over me. I should pray. Because how can we forge a meaningful relationship with God without resting in prayer? How can we fulfill His deepest desire to have relationship with us without resting in prayer?

And this brings me to how Christianity is being eroded by our busyness. How many times have you found yourself too tired to drag yourself out of bed to attend church or bible study? How many times do you have an extracurricular commitment for your precious kiddo that conflicts with your church or bible study? What do you choose?

I bring this up not to be accusatory, but rather to illuminate my own struggles. I’m so fried from over-scheduling that by the time I get to God time, this girl is nap-bound. I reason that society will judge me less for missing church or bible study than missing my child’s gymnastics meet. And so I’m back to worshipping the idol of busyness over God.

The irony of it all is found in God’s offer to give us rest! He so clearly wants to give it to us, and even longs to fold our tired souls into his warm embrace. Just take a peek at Matthew 11:28: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” We just have to listen and go to Him. He is there waiting.

So, I’m now on a mission to promote rest. For God, myself, for moms, for dads, for friends, for we weary American Dreamers who built this country on trusting in God, but who have lost Him to busyness.

How do we start? Maybe the next time someone asks what you’re up to, say you’re enjoying resting. Resist the urge to say “I’m so super busy and feel like I need a vacation.” Consider saying “yes” to God and “no” to busyness. I promise He’ll notice… And maybe even bless you with that nap you’ve been looking for!

Reflect…
1. How have busyness and rest influenced your relationship with God?
2. How can you invite more rest into your life?

Dive Deeper…
1. Whispers of Rest: 40 Days of God’s Love to Revitalize Your Soul by Bonnie Gray
2. “The Disease of Being Busy” by Omid Safi

Giveaway!
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