Chapter 2018

January 2018 will start a new, and very interesting, chapter in our lives. In my life. With Jake heading to Basic on January 2, our day-to-day lives will look very different, for 9.5 weeks. Minimum. And while I’m excited for this new adventure, I’m nervous, for obvious reasons. Jake and I have never been apart. I have two little boys to take care of. I work outside the home, meaning there is a lot of extra coordination. Have I mentioned that Jake and I have never been apart?

But you know what I’m most nervous for? The work I know God is preparing to do in my life.

Proverbs 17:3 says, “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the Lord tests the hearts.”

The Lord is going to test and try my heart. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I tend to be very selfish. I like for things to go my way. I like to have control in the situation. I don’t mind a little chaos, so long as I know that there is a time planned for ending the chaos, bringing order, and then getting some quiet time.

But when I’m solo-momming it over here for more than 2 months…. THE CHAOS WILL HAVE NO END.

Okay, I’m exaggerating slightly. Maybe (I mean, have you met Archer?).

But the point stands. Yes, I will have lots of help, thank goodness. Yes, I have friends and family close who I can (and will) call upon when I need something. But the day-to-day, regular grind, routine, get-things-done will be a challenge.

I’m not so much worried about how I will manage. Women have been holding down the fort at home for millennia (or longer, if you’re an old-earth creationist). I was born to mom-manage, so I know I’ll rock that. It’s the selfishness and the self-serving bent I have that I know I will be forced to give up. And I don’t wanna give it up. That will be the hard part.

One thing I’ve really tried to be intentional about, especially as Archer gets older, is to pause and pray (out loud!!) immediately when I feel that I need some divine intervention. It’s not uncommon that I’ll be folding laundry or doing dishes in the evening, and suddenly I’m super-irritated that Jake didn’t take out the trash three Wednesdays ago. (???) And in those moments when I feel that my marriage is under attack and that I’m about to majorly spend some time in the flesh, I *try* to stop and ask God to change my heart, give me peace or joy or love or insert applicable-fruit-of-the-spirit here, and help me to see that moment as an opportunity to worship Him and serve my family.

It’s surprisingly effective! I’m not saying I don’t still have to work at it. But that perspective, and that direct request for Holy Spirit power is so helpful. Even if I find that I’m still frustrated or stressed or upset, I always feel more equipped to handle the situation in a way that pleases God.

And as I pray and prepare my heart (and my home) for this season ahead, I know that the moments I spend crying out to God for help will become even more important. While a large part of me is dreading this refining fire that God will use to grow my faith, there is also a part of me that is excited to see what God has for me on the other side. My prayer has changed from “God, help me survive this challenging time and make it fly by” to “God, help me see You and grow in You and desire You. Help me to have JOY as You refine me and make me more like You. Give me a desire to make much of You and spend every moment of my day in joyful worship and service to You.”

While I can’t say that it will happen every day – that I’ll be joyful through the struggle – I do believe that this prayer is in line with God’s will, and He will give me the strength I need to push forward.

“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” ~2 Corinthians 12:9

“but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 3:13b-14

So here I am, boasting in my infirmities. I know how selfish I can be. And I know that my lack of control will, to say the least, be a challenge. But thank God for my weaknesses, and thank God for the opportunity to experience his grace and strength and power!

I would so appreciate your prayers as Jake prepares to leaves. And prayers while he is gone. I know I am blessed to be surrounded by friends and family and to be covered in prayer by people who love me. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for our family this next year. 💙

Advertisements

To my fellow young mama…

Is there a young mom in your life? Or a mom of little ones that you’re close to? Can you do something for me? text her or call her right now and tell her that she’s a good mom. That she takes good care of her babies. That you can see with your own eyes how she loves them and how she spends so much time thinking of them and trying to find ways to love them better.

I can almost guarantee that she needs to hear that, even if she doesn’t realize it herself right now.

While it might not seem reasonable, especially if you’re in a different stage of life, the simple comments about how things could be done differently… can really hurt. Yes, we are probably overly sensitive to comments about our mothering choices or our mothering situations. But isn’t that a good thing? We care so deeply about the job of motherhood that any indication we’re not doing it right can burn and sting and scare. We so desperately want to be good moms. It would mean the world to have confirmation that we are!!

This broken world doesn’t value the ministry of motherhood. We live in such a me-me-me society, that we’ve lost sight of that beauty and worship that is integral to sacrifice. We sacrifice our bodies, our sleep, our peace, our comfort, our time, our food, our sense of self… while the world convinces us that we should focus on ourselves. And while every mom DOES need time and space to herself from time-to-time… we are called to sacrifice. And it’s beautiful. And we all do it. Sometimes willingly. Sometimes begrudgingly. But it sure would be easier with the support of those around us.

So next time you want to share what YOU would do in that situation, maybe just smile and tell her that it’s obvious that she loves her babies and that they’re lucky to have her (yes, that mom might tear up because she needed to hear that so badly!). I promise it will make a difference.

Paul says in Galatians, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9). Can you text that mom and remind her that she’s doing a good work, and that she will reap the reward for her motherhood ministry one day?

I am so blessed to have many people in my life, my own mom included, to encourage me. Be that person for a young mom in your life today! ❤️sun

#bossstatus

This has been a tough week, ladies and gentlemen. December, holidays, cold weather, never-ending runny noses, exhaustion, four loads of laundry, and a dishwasher that still doesn’t know how to load and unload itself. I know you’re right there with me. And add to that list, for our family, crushing news about a wayward beloved mentor, tears shed for a coworker’s miscarriage, and the reality of earthly bodies as a friend prepares for surgery.

By Friday, I feel like I’m barely holding it together. I feel helpless to do anything.

But then, the Holy Spirit reminds me of the women who have gone before me. Before us! I’m re-sharing one of my favorite articles about the role of women as God designed it, with prime examples from Scripture. Would you read it? I think you’ll be blessed. https://www.desiringgod.org/…/when-women-face-their-curse-r…

Stories about women from the Bible absolutely blow me away. Can I just say that I think women are awesome? Esther becomes queen, and puts her own life on the line to save her people. “And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:16). Ruth, who takes a risk and sleeps at the feet of Boaz (Ruth 3) is blessed to be found in the lineage of the Messiah. Rahab saves her whole family by protecting the Israelite spies (Joshua 2). The woman who brought the alabaster jar of oil to anoint the Savior’s feet cares not for anyone else’s opinion, but just wants to worship our Lord (Luke 7). And my personal favorite, Abigail in 1 Samuel 25 boldly approaches David, and he later credits her with keeping him from making a grave mistake. “Blessed is your advice”, he told her (verse 33).

I could go on and on. So ladies this morning, be encouraged. We are world changers. We may be exhausted and cranky. We may spend our days running around and picking up chicken nuggets off the floor. Changing diapers. Constantly falling behind on laundry. Trying to get ahead at work. Missing our kids yet wishing for some time alone. Trying to find a way to make the next week easier. But never forget, we are world changers. You are a world changer. #bossstatus

2

Hospitality In Jesus’ Name

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” Acts 2:42

I’ve always considered myself a hospitable person. In fact, I’ve always shared that hospitality is a spiritual gift of mine. Anytime I take gift assessments, I easily answer the questions about how I enjoy having people in my home.

But I realized recently that things I enjoy in theory might not be similarly enjoyed in reality.

What I mean is this – I love the idea of having people in my home. I love to think about welcoming friends and family inside, guiding them to a place to sit, taking their bags and coats, offering a drink, and helping their little one get situated playing with my little one (I might also be wearing heels and pearls in this vision).

And then I wake up.

Because in this season of life, that is NOT what hospitality looks like. As much as I would love to paint a picture of perfection and order, it’s just not realistic. Now if that is what it really does look like at your house, then go you. Seriously! You go, Glenn Coco! But that’s not how it works at Baggs End, and I really don’t see that changing any time soon. That’s not to say that for special occasions (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, birthdays, or a visitor’s first time at our home (maybe)) I won’t take extra care. But that’s not the norm.

Last night, we had some dear friends over for dinner. Our first guests since I’ve gone back to work with baby #2. When we had guests during my maternity leave, I had all day to prepare the home and the meal and clothes, etc. And before maternity leave, when it was just Archer, I could still juggle things pretty well to prepare for evening guests. But last night. Let’s just say there were tears from all three of us. Combine a gassy baby, a teething toddler, and a sleep-deprived mama who had a stressful day at work – we weren’t really set up for success.

Juggle, juggle, juggle.

Not only did I completely mis-time the meal, I also completely changed the menu mid-cooking! (Why do I do these things to myself?) Added to that, 25% of our burners aren’t working, and 50% of my pots were dirty. Baby crying, Toddler crying, Mama crying. I realized mid-meal (right around the second time I had to leave the table to nurse the baby) that maybe leggings weren’t proper attire and wine wasn’t an appropriate drink, especially considering the fact that we had as our guests a pastor and his wife. *facepalm, facepalm, facepalm*

But you know what? I had completely missed the point of the hospitality. When you are hospitable, you are generous and friendly in your entertainment of your guests. And when you are hospitable in Jesus’ name, you add in some prayer and do all of it for the glory of God.

So why was I trying to make everything perfect? I can guarantee you that in my selfish state, my aim for perfection was for my own glory. And that’s exactly where I went wrong.

Because number one, our friend-guests didn’t care. It’s this weird thing where they’re human too. They juggle jobs and tiny humans and animals and expectations and realities of life where things don’t go as planned. And number two, our time together was meaningful and fruitful and honoring to the Lord.

We spent time studying the apostles’ doctrine – in the presence of our children, who we are tasked to teach. We fellowshipped and shared our lives with each other. We broke bread by intimately sharing a meal (the food turned out pretty darn good, if you ask me). And we ended our time together in prayer.

By the end of the evening, when I finally allowed myself to let it go, I was so rejuvenated in my spirit. What more could I ask for than an evening where time and food and fellowship are shared among friends, and we glorify Jesus as our primary purpose. If only I could remember to remember this at the beginning of an evening next time, rather than the end!

As I crawled in bed, with some dirty dishes left in the sink and a few items still not crossed off on my to-do list, I was reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (verse 33). I pray that the next time I invite people into my home, that I will make much of Him and remember that it’s never about me – it’s never about the beauty of my home or the enjoyment of my cooking – and it’s always, always, all about Him.

1

No Good Thing

My 2017 Bible Study plan has been focused on Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. On years that I read through the Bible from cover to cover, I plan and prepare to move along at a steady pace. But this year, some mornings I read a few chapters, and other mornings, I read a single verse and meditate on it. This morning, while I met with Jesus, this particular passage from the Psalms jumped out at me, and I couldn’t quite move past it.

I am the Lord your God,
Who brought you out of the land of Egypt;
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
“But My people would not heed My voice,
And Israel would have none of Me.
So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart,
To walk in their own counsels.
“Oh, that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!
I would soon subdue their enemies,
And turn My hand against their adversaries.
~Psalm 81:10-14

I needed to read that this morning. I love that part of verse 10 that says, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” WOW! Is that not what God wants to do? A couple chapters later, the Psalmist says, “No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11) How amazing that God wants to bless us. His Word also tells us that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17) But that blessing is preceded by obedience. “No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly”.

Why am I striving? Why am not just abiding in him? These are days where I am trying to figure everything out on my own. In chapter 81, above, verse 11 says “But My people would not heed My voice, And Israel would have none of Me.” Am I heeding God’s voice right now? I know I’m not trying to drown it out, but I’m certainly not listening for it. Notice how verse 11 starts with “but” – indicating that God would have filled his people’s mouths, BUT, they would not heed His voice. They missed out on His blessing due to their disobedience.

That is powerful to me today. I do not want God in heaven to say about me, “Oh, that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways!” (verse 13). I want God to fill my mouth, and to bless me. How often do we miss out on blessings by trying to take control of the situation? If you’re anything like me……. It happens all too often. The Bible is full of stories of people who didn’t trust God’s plan for them, and tried to take care of it themselves. You don’t have to get very far into Genesis before you see Eve fail to trust God’s good plan for her life (paradise in the Garden of Eden!) and try to become wise on her own.

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”
~Genesis 3:6

Oh, if only Eve had listened to her Father and waited on His good plan for her!

Taking some time out of my day today to stop trying to control and plan everything around me. What an amazing gift to have Scriptures full of the promises of God. No good thing will he withhold from me, if I walk uprightly!