Making Time for God

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Incredibly, as a 25-year-old mother of two small children, I manage to make time with God almost every single day. It is no easy task and requires much perseverance on my part to stay the course and reach out to God when I can get even a little time. At 1:30 P.M. every afternoon (give or take about 30 minutes) I quickly get my 6-month-old baby and toddler down for some much-needed rest and then pray that they will stay quiet for just one hour while mommy tries to get into the Word. As soon as they are silent for a few minutes, I rush to get my bible and study books together and then I sit down for the much anticipated time with God.

Except, wouldn’t you know it? Shortly after I get settled the temptation to check my social media sites comes swiftly into my mind and takes up about 5 to 10 minutes. Once that temptation is satiated, I then begin to feel peckish for a snack. Wait now I am thirsty. Do I need a blanket? Where is my favorite pen? Leave the window shut or open it? Fresh air helps me think…

And then my baby starts to cry.

I successfully wasted the hour God graciously gave to me for time with Him.

If you examine this issue carefully, you might notice that I didn’t really set the time aside for God. There were ulterior motives in my mind before I started to put my children down for their nap. So what if I was tempted to be a little selfish? I am a young mother and need time for myself, right? Right? Right…?

Well actually, I would gain far more from devoting time to God. This scenario I have written to entertain my fellow millennial mothers is a real and very common problem for us mommies living in the ever-distracting world of today. So how does one simply shut out the temptations and extra distractions? Make time for God. Dedicate that hour, 30 minutes, 10 minutes, whatever you can get daily and discipline yourself to make sure the ‘busy’ things do not take priority over your personal walk with Christ.

Get your water and set it somewhere you can find it easily when you get that hour time started. Have easy snacks readily accessible. I would recommend a granola bar to avoid guilty munching while you read. Open or shut the window way in advance. Most importantly, DO NOT CHECK FACEBOOK. Social media is robbing us Millennials of the most beautiful aspect of free time which is a sense of being in the present instead of being glued to a small screen.

Walk daily with the Lord and you will feel rejuvenated after your kiddos wake up from their naps and are ready to wear you out all over again.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

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Reliance

Nothing in life can be quite as stressful as searching for your first house. My husband and I are competing for a home within our budget during a horrendous seller’s market. As soon as you think about making an offer, the house you want is bought from under you. I don’t recall having so much pressure connected with a choice in my 26 years of life.

Spokane has many neighborhoods to choose from, but not every neighborhood is equal in housing trends and crime levels. For the last month, I have seen many fabulous homes in the worst areas to live in, and I have seen fixer-uppers in delightful parts of the city virtually crime free. Both types of homes are being bought at nearly lightspeed by people who can offer cash and make up their minds on the spot.

It can become difficult at the moment to feel content in losing a home. I have heard many times, “God has something better for you. Keep looking! Don’t feel bad” from well-meaning family and friends. They are definitely right that my husband and I should continue to search and hold on, but during the times of disappointment, I find my only comfort is directly found in the bible.  There are many examples of people who had to keep believing in the future.

I think many times we as believers read the stories of the Israelites coming out of Egypt with the divine power of God and think…how on earth could these people so easily lose hope and begin grumbling within themselves about the journey to their new home? God promised these tribes land that would flow with milk and honey. I know I have read the books of Exodus and Numbers and thought to myself, “these people were so ungrateful and wishy-washy!” Perhaps I was considering myself as more assured of God’s provision, more than the ancient Israelites were? I was wrong.

The truth is, once we feel unsure of the future, whether outward or inward we begin to grumble and doubt. We groan and decide that life is far too difficult. Was Egypt so bad? Was that house that was 20 grand out of our budget really too much? What about that house that had insane levels of radon gas? My mind reels with the what-ifs and some lament of missed opportunities. However, God calls us as His children to continue to hold on. Don’t settle for less, don’t look back. He commands us forward to the better choices He gives to us. God’s plans for His people are higher. There will be a house for us that is HIS home for us, better than we can imagine.

I can take my solace in that.

Taken for Granted

There should be mommy medals or awards for those times when patience and strength are tested. What are some examples of times when a medal could be achieved?

Giving birth. The first time your child needs to have stitches. Perhaps when your toddler throws the Oscar-winning tantrum performance of their little lives in the middle of the grocery store. I would also toss in the dreaded stomach flu.

My family recently went through a bout of stomach illness which persisted well beyond the “24 hours” normal time frame. My husband and two small children were sick for 5 days straight, unable to keep anything down but the occasional cup of juice. As soon as a day would pass without one of them throwing up, I would become giddy at the prospect of health returning to my family. This was quickly met with volatile bodily movements and cleaning up my van.

Bummer. What mother hasn’t gone through this? The stomach flu is the pits! Constant laundry, cleaning messes, checking temperatures, warning people who may have been exposed, thinking it could be over and then laughing at yourself for being so foolish…

A medal. This type of experience would merit a “mommy level up” life event plaque.

Or does it? I could go on and on about the horrors of stomach ailments and what I cannot unsee in my lifetime. However, this kind of interruption in normal family life forces us to step back and reflect on what is taken for granted.

I am certainly grateful for my healthy children and husband. I never thought I would be over the moon about people not puking for a week straight. My heart was tested and God has shown me what He blesses all of us with most of our lives: comfortable health. You never think about how awesome it is to be well in the body until you are stripped of your health.

A week and a half later, I am still praising God for our renewed strength. I don’t need a medal because the peace we have now is far better. This time of health is a blessing.

“I will give thanks to you Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds” (Psalm 9:1, the New International Version).

 

Autumn Twitch

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The change of season from Summer to Autumn inspired Chloe the cat. Her tortoiseshell fur rippled and twitched as she gazed out the basement window. The birds and squirrels were moving in such ways to cause her an internal frenzy of desire. Chloe became a thing of agitation sitting there staring out into the garden where many a prey critter scurried here and there. Chloe looked out at the crisp, cold afternoon activities in the garden and decided that she had to investigate.

Chloe’s main problem was, of course, these humans that insisted that she remain inside the house most of the day. Chloe made her way upstairs, patrolling the kitchen for food and possible opportunities to sneak outdoors for a bit of fun. One of the female humans made her way to the screen door, stepping outside to do something meaningless in Chloe’s opinion. As the human slid the screen door aside to step through, the little tortie cat scampered out the door to the backyard garden.

Gardens are completely perfect for small animals such as squirrels, sparrows, and large insects to bustle about in. Chloe prowled her territory first before meandering to the lively garden area. She lifted her head and opened her mouth to smell the markings of a neighbor cat that had rudely claimed her territory the night before. Chloe became indignant as she smelled the male cat’s message on a rock: “This is mine now.” Chloe’s tail bristled at the thought of some other cat intruding on her stomping grounds.

She made the decision to follow this intruder cat’s trail of stench back to his own territory. Chloe was a small cat of only 7 pounds, but she had endless amounts of bravery when it came to defending her home. The humans were completely oblivious to the nuances of cat social etiquette. One does not simply claim a spot that is currently occupied unless that cat wants a fight! Chloe set off for the wilderness of yard next door.

Chloe followed the interloper cat’s trail through large, dried bushes of lavender. This yard was paradise for mighty hunters such as Chloe the brave. Her whiskers delicately brushed against dried grass and weeds, giving her whole body a better sense of where she was in the jungle surroundings of overgrowth and abandoned garden stones. She pressed on until a movement caught her attention. A tiny flutter was four feet away from her place in the yard. All focus that Chloe had on the enemy cat was quickly lost and shifted to the prey that had foolishly made its presence known.

The tiny cat crept forward, hardly breathing as she made the most delicate of movements. One paw. One muscle. Only the twitching end of her tail revealed the sheer chaos she felt so powerfully.

Another flutter.

Chloe exploded out of her perfect hiding place in a blur of fangs and claws. She growled in delight and wrangled the small bird to the ground. The bird’s head was carefully caged in the cat’s teeth. She sat there, panting with the live bird not moving for fear that this predator would bite down on her prey. She lifted her head out of the grass to see her humans and their offspring playing in the yard back at home.

This catch was such a proud moment for Chloe. She felt compelled to share her amazing hunting prize with the humans. They had fed her a lot, and maintained a clean pooping area for her and the other two cats she shared boxes with. Yes, these humans deserved to see the bird before Chloe would kill it and hide it for something to play with later.

She carried the sparrow by the head back to her own yard, and up the steps to the screen door. Chloe could feel the little bird’s heartbeat pounding from its chest. Chloe peered into the house through the screen door and saw the younger female human jump in surprise. The cat sat with her chest puffed out, pride shining through her eyes at the beautiful catch she had collected and was now sharing.

Just as Chloe was about to bite the bird and end its misery, the older female came around to the outside from the garage. She let out a noise which made Chloe realize that her present was not welcomed nor appreciated. With a sigh, Chloe ran away with the bird flopping around. The younger female human ran outside and grabbed Chloe to try to release the bird. Chloe couldn’t believe the disrespect she was getting for all of her hard work!

After a minute of struggling, the female human managed to get Chloe to release the tiny bird. The sparrow wobbled back into the tree which led to the next door neighbor’s yard. Chloe was furious. She ran back into the tree and searched for her hard-earned trophy bird. Upon finding the helpless bird, she pounced on it and ended it’s misery. Chloe decided that this time she would set the treasure on the porch and walk away. Surely the humans would find the present and know she loved them all! She drug the tortured bird to the porch rug and deposited it there. Then, Chloe promptly ran away to watch from a distance for the humans to have a good response.

No such luck. The humans were disgusted with her present, and were so very rude as to remove it from the rug! Chloe layed on the grass in the shade.

She gazed into the garden, content with her endeavors that one autumn afternoon.

Breadcrumbs

boat-2399083_960_720Beyond this earthly perspective, there is a place made for us with our heavenly Father that we can barely conceptualize. Heaven. The dwelling place of God which is perfect, without the pains and woes that this world brings with it. We yearn to be with God, to experience that perfection but we cannot in our mortal state. It is not possible for us to experience heaven without being sanctified here on earth first.

What does a good Father do for his children that love and obey Him? A good Father lavishes his children with love and small gifts that bring about the very best in them. I like to call these gifts breadcrumbs of heaven, small glimpses of the eternal life we are looking forward to, the promise of perfection that cannot be found here in the life we lead, but it is so very real. Tangible. You have tasted heaven before and may not have ever known it at the very moment it happened.

If you think back, there were breadcrumbs laid out for you by your Father, these little gifts which keep you desiring more of His promise than what the world can offer. I can recall a few of these gifts from my day today: Meeting new friends who are fellow believers in Christ, welcoming and joyful to share their home with my family. They shared a meal with my husband and me, and all of our children played together. My heart was so full to experience the fellowship of these new friends, that I continue to smile and thank God for His provision of friends I can count as dear to my life.

In my book study with fellow women of faith, I shared my heart and had so many laughs. This morning I was emersed in the word of God, and the helpful words of Neil T. Anderson. Sharing laughs about the craziness of motherhood gave me strength and the desire to take on the challenges of child-rearing with a cheerful disposition. I am so incredibly grateful for that glimpse of heaven because I know in my heart that God’s dwelling place is pure joy. His children will laugh and praise Him above all else.

Farther back in my memory, I can recall breadcrumbs that I found in speaking life to people who really needed it. Making someone feel loved is a glimpse of heaven. God is love, therefore receiving and giving love to people freely is to share heaven and experience a bit of what it can be like. There is no greater gift than selfless love given to a person in need.

God will always give us a little taste of heaven. He wants us to be craving His divine nature and His promises over the quick, meaningless things that this world can offer. May we always be following God’s breadcrumbs.

 

Don’t Panic.

 

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“Don’t panic.”

We hear that line used frequently in those action-thriller type movies. The scene is about to become intense for the protagonist and antagonist, the audience is rivetted as these two opposing characters fight using everything they have earned, learned, or collected through out the storyline. They throw all of their personal effort into avoiding defeat and overcoming extraordinary odds.

Isn’t it funny how we audience members can do this sometimes ourselves? We scramble to find solutions to problems which come from our personal power and resources. Human beings have an innate desire to conquer dilemmas using our own intellect, emotional strength, physical endurance, and social connections. Looking inward for everything we need to fight life’s problems…except for God.

What happens when we declare “DON’T PANIC” to our family or ourselves, convince ourselves of our own strength, and we cannot succeed? What do you think when your human efforts fail miserably? I know what happens when I fail…I PANIC! Caught up in our selfish need for control we are suddenly exposed as the lost sheep wandering from the herd, and our shepherd is seeking us. We tremble, cry, and realize the folly of trying to go it alone when life becomes difficult.

How can we confidently declare, “Don’t panic” in times of duress and impending storms? We can fall to our knees, lift our hands, and call on our Father. He is reliable, always in control. We can be assured of this truth no matter the circumstances we face, that God is always with us. We don’t need to panic or fight alone.

“‘Humble yourselves therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all of your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.‘(New International Version, 1 Peter 5:6-7)”

Post Modernist Dilemma

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Post Modernism by the following:

a:  of, relating to, or being any of various movements in reaction to modernism that are typically characterized by a return to traditional materials and forms (as in architecture) or by ironic self-reference and absurdity (as in literature)”.  (“Postmodern”, 2017)

Since the 1950’s, every industrialized culture has moved away from Modernism, and continues to push against traditional Modernist arguments. During the Modern era (1800-1950), philosophers, scientists, and scholars desired to create peace for all human beings regardless of an individual’s personal ethical standards. Historically, there was a push to establish freedoms for all members of society.  Communities developed new ways to communicate, create, and interpret existence. Modernists were certain of the power they held to find the “truth” to existence at large by their own means. We now live in a time where absolute truth is no longer valued because our cultural values have been so dramatically altered within the last 60 years.

How have we as a culture been influenced by the Post Modernist movement? What has changed since the Modern era faded out?

Our Post-Modern era has influenced our collective ability to learn. During the Pre-Modern age, which ended right after the Renaissance era or “Enlightenment” period, there was a common cultural understanding of the world through the lens of scholars and scientists. Masters of different fields of study were considered experts, trusted by the public based solely on their word and title. Pre-Modernist scholars would study the natural sciences, as well as the Bible. Scholars studied to become the leading authorities, who would pass down knowledge to the next generation. During the Pre-Modern era, authorities in the scientific realm would study their world to determine how it was that God designed life to function. Science, as a field of study, was pursued to edify God through discovery. Science, today, seeks to edify the scientist through a vision of ultimate knowledge to be gained for the sole purpose of holding on to authority. As a culture in this Post Modern era, Americans use their unlimited resources of gaining knowledge to assert themselves as experts in a particular field of knowledge.

Here comes the true Post Modernist dilemma: How can anyone have knowledge of the “truth”, when someone’s truth is someone else’s interpretation? Society denies validity to researchers and voices contrary to their long-held bias, therefore how can anyone know what the truth is in many respects? Are your viewpoints reality? How do you know?

Post Modernism has greatly influenced how we as a culture interpret history. Facts, statistical analysis, and anthropological evidence which suggests that the Bible is historically accurate, are cast aside and replaced with an “interpretation” of the facts. We now look at history as a “bad memory” of humankind’s short comings, and we believe we can destroy the proof of our sinful natures by tearing down monuments which serve to remind us of how far we have come to create a land of ethical standards. By removing the past, we have no future. Individuals, cultures, and nations are defined by the incredible triumphs and losses suffered in the past. Post Modernists would rather the mistakes be erased to move forward with interpreted confidence based on self-asserted bias which has been stoked and emboldened through groups who desire to hold power over the truth.

The dilemma is really a heart problem. Are you fumbling through the darkness, assured by your own interpretation of reality?

There is but One Truth. One reality.

“‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding’ (New International Version, Proverbs 3:5).”

 

 

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/postmodern

 

It’s on Me.

angry-2191104_960_720Do you ever feel like you are just slamming through your day to make it to the end, hopefully, unscathed and triumphant in achieving your goals? I know I do. Almost daily I feel as though I am pushing to be done faster, doing more, satisfying my desire for a full day and many tasks accomplished. I know that God has created us to be hard working, but He did not intend for us to be so busy that we become frustrated by our goals.

Why do we become frustrated when things don’t go our way? I have read in several Christian publications that goals, when directed by our own ambition, are blocked by other human beings, we become a multitude of ugly things. Namely, we can become angry, confused, sad, jealous, and downright nasty to those other people we view as impediments to our overall goals.

Now, if goals are God inspired and directed, almost always these goals are achievable without us spending all of our energy. God-led directions are not impossible and we can have confidence that He is pleased with our progress for the day. God rarely gives his children impossible tasks which would cause us to question His judgment and love. God’s directed goals for our lives bring us closer to Him and keep our attention on His bigger picture.

If my goal in life was to have a perfectly clean house every hour of the day, which I admit is usually the case, my children and other members of my family would easily stand in my way of achieving that goal. This would cause me to become bitter or angry because my goal has been impeded. If one of my goals in life is to have the perfect marriage with an obedient husband who would never question my choices and do everything I ask of him, it is certain that he would fail to live up to my goals for a “perfect marriage” and I would become sad or angry that my goal was once again destroyed.

We can take these human-centered goals and reevaluate them to find where we might have gotten mixed up, putting our own selfish goals over God’s true goals for our lives. I know that having a perfectly clean home is impossible with two children under the age of 4 unless I want to make them miserable by never allowing them to play or explore. I also know that having the perfect marriage where my husband is a doormat and a slave to my whims would make him feel unloved and resentful. However good these goals of mine might make me feel, they are incredibly selfish ones when we look closely at ourselves and our motives.

How do these goals become God-centered? We need to focus on bettering ourselves to serve others, not the other way around. Instead of having the goal to have a perfectly clean home every hour of the day which would almost certainly create misery for my kids, my goal should be to manage messes on a case-by-case basis. Who cares if the floor has toys and stuffed animals everywhere? These are signs of my children playing and appreciating the gifts we give to them. I need to focus on myself, desiring to be wise and slow to anger, a biblical standard for all parents. I should not expect my children to be mindful of their messes every single hour of the day. It just isn’t realistic! My new goal is to become the mother who is wise and slow to anger. This is God-centered goal making.

When it comes to my marriage, I need to rid my heart of the goal of perfecting my husband to obey me and be a slave to my whims. My husband is already perfect in the eyes of God, who is the real Lord of my husband’s life. When I seek to control his daily life, I am assuming I am God which I am definitely NOT. My goal as his wife should be to be a good homemaker and to serve him as his spouse. When you build up your spouse first before you seek self-gratification, the result is a happier marriage. This also goes for your spouse, but for the sake of this post, I am focusing on Me and YOU. We all need to work on our selves and make our goals God centered.

When our goals are built on self-centered desires of the heart, we can be assured that those goals will be impeded and that we will become frustrated. Keep your goals centered on biblical truths and pray often for God’s guidance. It’s not God holding me or you back from feeling fulfilled as a Christian, it’s all about us and what we believe to be the truth.

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”(Proverbs 16:9 NIV) 

 

 

You are Loved.

heart-700141_960_720It is truly difficult to conceptualize how someone can love us unconditionally.  Some of us are born to parents who teach us how to accept love,  and some of us are born without that earthly guidance. If you did not learn early on to be loved, I am here to tell you that you are. You are so very loved.

My 3 year-old son often tries to push my buttons to see exactly how far he can go before mommy “stops” loving and becomes angry. In almost every situation I tell him that I love him even if he disobeys me. Part of love is imparting discipline for poor choices either through natural consequences, or by purposefully correcting the behavior with an  activity he doesn’t appreciate, such as a time-out.

Through the rough time of learning a lesson, my son is never confused about whether or not I love him. I think we need to look at our relationship with God in the same light. He loves us unconditionally and we are His children. Motherhood has definitely made it clear to me how a loving Father can impart discipline for His children as I go through my days attempting to guide my son in the ways he should go.

Now, if you did not have someone direct your path with loving guidance, but you claim the ressurection of Christ as the truth, then you are indeed loved unconditionally. That means that you are loved although you stumble. You are loved when you feel disobedient in sinning and realize the error of your ways. God does not stop loving you, there is nothing that can separate you from the love of the Father.

Our natural inclination is to doubt God’s ability to love us through our mistakes. He loves us when we are mindfully rebellious and come running back to Him with remorse. There is no end to the love He can lavish on us. Isn’t that freeing? God’s endless love for His children is unceasing, and when you know this in your heart and take it as a fact you can step forward and speak to God as your Father with confidence. He welcomes us to speak honestly with Him about our questions and woes.

Christ has called you out onto the rough seas, hand reaching out as He calls you to trust in His endless love. Will you except it as fact, or continue to question?

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him” (1 John 3:1  NIV).