Encouragement

God, Where Are You?

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God, where are You? Where are You when the waves of grief begin washing over me?  When I gasp for air to fill my burning lungs, and clutch at the tightness growing in my chest…where are You? Where are You when I beg for the pain to end? When I plead to wake up from this nightmare and for it all to have been a bad dream, where are You? Where are you when all I can see is the darkness and all I can hear is the silence? Where are you when the fear of the unknown creeps in and I’m too scared to even move. Where are you when I’m broken God? When I’m shattered into a million pieces? When I just want the hurt to go away?  God, are you there? Do you hear me?

I woke up a few nights ago from a terrible dream. A dream that made me relive one of the most difficult times of my life. A year and half after my second miscarriage and the pain still sears through my heart as if it were only yesterday. This dream…I saw it all again, I felt it all again, I experienced it all again. I woke up in a panic believing that it was real. The tears were streaming down my cheeks. My heart was racing and my mind was swirling with thoughts and emotions that I had buried.

I got up from my bed and stumbled through to our living room. I sat on the couch, wiping the tears from my cheeks, and trying to calm myself down. All of my children and my husband were sleeping. The house was so quiet (In a family of 8, quiet doesn’t happen very often) It was painfully quiet. Every time I tried to close my eyes, the images from the dream and all of the painful thoughts and memories were there.

I tossed and turned on the couch for several minutes. I prayed for God to comfort my heart and mind. “If I could only have a few minutes Lord, just a few minutes of peace! Please!”

As I sat there alone in my dark living room, I just wanted to be held. I just needed to be held. I wanted to be held and comforted, and told that everything was going to be alright, that is was only a dream and that it was all over. I walked back into our bedroom and gently grabbed my husband’s hand. He looked so peaceful while sleeping and I felt bad for waking him, but I needed him… I really needed him.  He could tell I was distressed and he asked if I was okay. All I could reply with was “Please, just hold me”.

He held my hand as we walked back into the living room and sat down on the couch. He wrapped his arms around me and held me so tight. There were no words exchanged…he just held me. His embrace said everything that I needed it to. His strong arms made me feel so safe. He leaned down and gently kissed me on the forehead while stroking my hair. He sat there and held me while I cried and poured my heart out to him. I soon fell back asleep in his arms.

The next morning started early, as usual, with the pitter patter of little one’s feet running through the house.  We went about our daily routine. Staying busy helped to keep my mind occupied and offered little opportunity for my mind to wander. While I was busy cleaning up from our breakfast, my 3 year old came running into the kitchen. “Momma, will you hold me? I want you to hold me”.

I scooped him up in my arms and walked over to our chair. His little arms wrapped around my neck as I held him close. As we sat there, I kissed his little cheeks. He reach up to rub his sleepy little eyes and then quickly nuzzled himself back into my chest. He felt so safe and secure wrapped up in my arms. I knew that feeling and how wonderful it felt. I didn’t have to say a word to this little guy for him to know how loved he was in that moment. I just held him.

It was then that God spoke to my heart and told me ” This is how I comfort you”.  How many times have I cried out to God in fear, pain or heartache and have been met with silence?  “God, are you here? Do you hear me? God, where are You?” In my brokenness I would feel so alone. Did God really even care about me or how I was feeling?

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you;” ISAIAH 66:13

     So God, where are you? You’re here…You are right herewith me. It’s in the moments that are cries are met with perceived silence that we are being held. It’s not that God isn’t there or that He doesn’t care. He does…more than we could ever comprehend. God knows exactly what we need, and sometimes, we don’t need words…we just need to be held.

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God, today I pray for all of those that are hurting. I don’t know their circumstances Father, but I know that You do. I know that You see every tear that they cry and hear every single word…even those that are unspoken. Lord, I pray that You will hold them tightly in Your loving arms and speak peace into their hearts. Help them to cast their cares upon you Lord and to know that You care for them! Help them to rest in Your embrace and to stand on Your promises. Give them a renewed hope and song Lord! I thank you for what You are doing in their lives today Lord. I praise You for Your goodness, Your mercy, Your faithfulness, and Your unfailing love. I ask these things in Your son Jesus’s name. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Encouragement

Have A Little Humble Honey

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“I am NOT your maid!”

“Why should I have to clean this up AGAIN?”

“Nobody else in this house cares how hard I work around here!”

“Cleaning up messes is all I EVER get to do!”

     I woke up this morning exhausted from being up and down throughout the night with a sick little one. As I walked into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee, tears began to fill my eyes while glancing upon the countertop covered in yesterday’s dirty dishes. The trash bags that should have been carried out yesterday sitting untouched in the middle of the floor just added insult to injury. The kids began filtering in and I was met with a whirlwind of requests.

“I’m hungry mom.”

“Can you open this for me?”

“Mooooommmm, we’re out of toilet paper again!”

“Milk mama! Milk. My milk! Mama!”

“Mom, where’s my underwear?”

     I took a couple of deep breaths and begrudgingly started filling up sippy cups with milk, retrieving rolls of toilet paper from the cabinet, and scouring through the ever growing mound of clothes that has been sitting in my living room chair for over a week for the missing pair of undies. Little ones running through the house, noise and stress levels increasing… I was tired and already feeling defeated and my day had only just begun.

I’ve been in such a slump lately. I’ve struggled for the motivation to even keep up with the basic housework let alone more extensive cleaning or responsibilities. My lack of concerted effort has become apparent in the amount of chaos and clutter that has accumulated over the past several weeks in our home. I have reach an entirely new level of “Burn Out”. My inner monologue has resounded with the following statement…”There’s just not enough of me to be able to keep up with everything and everyone. It’s just too much!”

I mustered up the courage to begin tackling some of the mess and meandered towards the kids’ bedrooms. The sheer magnitude of the mess was just overwhelming, and I instantly started to feel angry. I could feel a deep-seated anger rising up and a surge of pride began to overtake my thoughts.

“I am NOT your maid!”

“Why should I have to clean this up AGAIN?”

“Nobody else in this house cares how hard I work around here!”

“Cleaning up messes is all I EVER get to do!”

     All of these thoughts began streaming through my mind and soon began making their way to my mouth. I felt exasperated and almost resentful( that’s hard for me to write) towards my family for the amount of work and effort that it was going to take for me to get our house clean, organized, and within comfortable station again. My tears could no longer be contained. They burst forward in the waves of indignation that flooded over me.

It was then that the Holy Spirit brought me to remembrance. PRIDE…in every statement that I sullenly thought and spoke, my focus was on one thing. ME. Me, myself and I. “I am not your maid”, “Why should I have to clean this up again?” My prideful heart and thoughts had led me here. My lack of humility had caused me to lose sight of what God had called me to do. My pride had not only snuffed out my desire for cultivating a servant’s heart, but had also stolen my ability to serve others with the right motivations and intentions. My selfishness had overtaken selflessness.

 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” LUKE 22:27

I began looking through scriptures and praying for God to help me. I felt so overwhelmed and guilty for the hardness that had developed in my heart. From the next room, I heard my 3 year old singing to top of his little lungs “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong.” Hearing his little voice singing praises blessed my heart. I am weak Lord, but YOU are strong. This scripture came upon my heart…

 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 CORINTHIANS 12:9-11

Empty me of myself Lord so that I can be filled with you! I want to love and serve my husband and children with a humble heart! I want to love and serve others like Jesus did! How can I cultivate a servant’s heart within my children if I am not displaying a heart of loving servitude myself? Jesus loved and served so selflessly! He was never constrained by a to-do lists or a lack of time. Jesus never placed himself above any task, big or small. By following his example, we can only then truly learn the meaning of love and humility.

We can teach our children to lead by teaching them to serve. I know that we can accomplish tasks much faster by just going ahead and doing them ourselves momma, but we have the opportunity to teach our children to serve! It is our job to not only teach them valuable skills that they will use throughout their lifetime, but to help guide their hearts towards Jesus while doing so.

    “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” PHILIPPIANS 2:3-5

Lord, today I pray that you will help me to love and serve my family with a humble heart. Help me to see all of the opportunities within my marriage and motherhood that I can glorify you. Help me to love and serve others as Jesus did. Help me to view the loads of laundry and dirty dishes as blessings instead of burdens. Empty me of myself Lord, so that I may be filled with more of You! Thank you for all of the blessings that you have bestowed upon me, and help me to never lose sight of what you have called me to do. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Encouragement

Oceans of Grief and Islands of Grace

Your life for the most part has been smooth sailing. Sure, you’ve encountered your fair share of choppy waters, but you have bravely mustered through while maintaining your composure. The storms, though fierce, have always quickly dwindled. The waves swiftly settled, the winds ceased in blowing, the clouds began parting, and they soon gave way to the sunshine again. After basking in the warmth and glow of the sun for a season, you never imagined that a storm of such magnitude could materialize so abruptly. You never even saw it coming. You had no time to prepare for this, and this is not what you had envisioned. You feel lost and helpless against it.

The realization that you have now lost all control of your situation hits hard, and you soon find yourself capsized in the middle of a bottomless ocean. You feel the fear and panic slowly creep up into your throat. You cry out for help, but are met in return by only the sound of the crashing waves around you. The waves have repeatedly pulled you under, and as you fight to surface, you gasp for your next breath, which is barely enough to fill your lungs. The current is becoming stronger and stronger, and your energy is rapidly depleting. The waves have tossed you back and forth endlessly, and every muscle in your body aches and burns from your futile exertion to swim to safety. You’re exhausted and cannot fight the strength of the water anymore. It’s over. Just as you feel yourself giving up and letting go, you see it.

 

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A small beam of light catches the corner of your eye. You quickly become fixated on this unknown light source, and feel a small glimmer of hope flare within your spirit. This beam begins shining… brighter and brighter. You consciously decide to stop fighting the current, and feel your body being swept by the waves toward this light. As you draw closer, the light begins to reveal itself. It’s a lighthouse.

The light, almost blinding by this point, illuminates your path as you exhaustedly thrust yourself upon the safety of the small sand bank. You climb the shelves of jagged rocks finally reaching an elevation of safety that the water can no longer reach. In the presence of this beaming light, the storm continues to rage around you, but you are safe. SAFE ON THE ROCK. You draw a full breath of oxygen deep into your burning lungs, and begin to cry… RELEASE. It’s in this surrender that an unexplainable peace begins to flood over you. You are being held. This battle is not yours to fight. You are not alone. He is going to carry you through this storm…

We mistakenly exhaust ourselves, fighting the current, and attempting to hold onto all of the scattered pieces of our lives when all we have to do is surrender it entirely to God. He alone is our place of safety. He is our refuge from the storm. He is our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer. In the midst of our darkest storms, his light continues to shine…guiding us, leading us, encouraging us, and comforting us. God IS the light and in Him is NO darkness! His grace will meet you right where you are my friend. His arms will never tire of holding you up, and when your strength fails, He is right there to carry you.

I don’t know the storm you might be facing today, but I know that God does. When those tears begin to flow, don’t fight them. Let them fall. Release your pain to Him. Only He can calm your heart and give you peace. God knows your sorrows, and He hears your cries my friend. This storm is not going to last forever. Continue to stand in the warmth of His love… the sun will come back out. When you feel yourself sinking and the water starts closing in, simply stretch forth your hand. Your lifeguard, He’s there…and He walks on the water. 

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Encouragement

I’m Gonna Tell You That I Love You

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Loss… it has a way of making you appreciate what you once had. It makes you see things from a different perspective and brings revelation to the value of what has been lost.

I awoke to read words that tore through my heart this morning. We lost a beloved member of our church family in a tragic accident last night. I couldn’t control the tears as they streamed down my face while calling out for my husband, informing him of this terrible news. We are all just devastated, numb, and in disbelief.

Times of loss often leave us feeling helpless. There are no words that we can say to ease the pain of those suffering. There is no act of kindness that we could perform that can remove the sting left by death.

Loss reminds us of just how fragile life is. It reminds us that we were never promised our next breath and that each moment that we have been given is a gift. Loss reminds us of how much we unknowingly take for granted, and just how much of a void will be left now that they are no longer here with us.

Brother Jess met us every Sunday morning as we walked through our church door. Every time we saw him, he had the warmest hugs and the biggest smile to share with us. Brother Jess prayed for us. He taught us. He loved us… and he never left without letting you know it.

I wrapped my arms around Brother Jess yesterday afternoon and told him that I loved him before walking out the door. I never expected that it would have been the last time that I would ever see him. I never imagined that it would be the last time that I would get to see his smile, to hug him tight, or tell him that I loved him. “Love you sis”… the last words Brother Jess ever said to me… and they will forever live in my heart.

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Loss reminds me of the person that I want to be… that person that is going to tell you “I love you” every time I see you, and at the end of every message and telephone call. The person that is gonna wrap my arms around you and squeeze you tight even though we may have only met. You might look at me like I’m crazy, but that’s okay… because I still love you. You don’t have to feel like you need to say it back or even reciprocate it… but I just want you to know that I love you. Jesus told us to love… and to love like Him. Love has become an almost taboo subject in our society today, but loving others is one of our greatest commandments! Loving others is what we have been called to do! Jesus didn’t just love the select few… He loved all.  He didn’t only love sometimes or just whenever He felt like it, but He loved at all times, and today we love, because He first loved us.

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Brother Jess inspired so many of us with his teachings and with the genuine love that he held for everyone. The testimony of his faith will live on. The lives that he has impacted, will forever be changed. His love and heart for people made a difference in this world.

Loss reminds us to place value and importance on every single person in our life. Their role might be big or it might be small. These people may be integral parts for our entire lifetime or they might only be there for a short season. Regardless, we love.

If today were the last day you would ever see a person, would that person know that you cared for them? Never shy away from showing God’s love to others my friends. Our time here is so short, and we have so much love to give.

 

 

Encouragement

Hearing God’s Voice In The Chaos

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Are you feeling tired today momma? Are you drained, exhausted, depleted, and overwhelmed? Oh geez, I am right there with you! A nasty stomach virus took up residence in our house this week with a serious vendetta against the GI tract. (In less picturesque words, I have cleaned up an UNFATHOMABLE amount of from my 6 children) EWWWWW An annoying headache (my eyeballs have a heartbeat) has taunted me all day. While on a business call this morning, my 2 and 3 year old successfully recreated a “Moses parting the Red Sea” rendition in our bathroom that would leave Charlton Heston in utter awe and disbelief. I gathered up all of the wet towels and carried them to the laundry room where I defeatedly tossed them onto the gargantuan mound of dirty laundry that has accumulated since the Bubonic Poop Plague has hit our home. Yeah, I was feeling pretty discouraged by this point. I plopped down in the living room chair, apparently unable to conceal the myriad of emotions coursing over me, when one of my little ones crawled into my lap. She started patting me while telling me “It’s okay momma. Don’t worry”. As I reach out to hug her sweet little neck, she peeled a slobbery, half eaten, gummy worm off of my elbow…and then the tears came…a lot of them. “Lord, I need your help! I’m running on empty and I don’t know if I can do it all! I need you!”

     Then, He sent His word to comfort my heart. (ISAIAH 40:11) “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

He speaks gently to my heart and reminds me that I am not alone. He reminds me of His presence in the chaos. He reminds me that He will equip me to get through today…and tomorrow…and the next. He reminds me that with every spill that I clean up, every load of laundry that I wash, every scraped knee that I kiss and bandage, every diaper that I change, every meal that I cook, every hug that I give, every correction that I offer, and every hug that I give… these are opportunities… opportunities that He has blessed me to have. These are opportunities to witness to my children. These are opportunities to show God’s love and His grace to my children… to plant seeds of forgiveness, understanding, and unconditional love. God has given me a ministry… a ministry of motherhood.

This mom thing is hard… REALLY hard. There’s a whole lot of work to be done and very little sleep and energy to accomplish it with. Let’s not forget that in all of the chaos and noise that we have been given a gift. We have been given an opportunity to witness and minister to our children. Hang in there mommas! What you are doing is making a difference and it doesn’t go unnoticed. Love your children and love them well mommas. The days seem so long, but the years are short. If you’re feeling tired and burnt out momma… talk to Him about it. He understands. Grab your Bible and begin to read. He will comfort your heart and remind you of your worth. He will be with you every step of the way along this beautiful and crazy journey of motherhood.

“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family” – Mother Teresa

 

 

 

 

 

Encouragement

Just Be Held

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Whatever you may be facing today… remember that you are not alone. God is with you in the midst of your grief and pain, your anger, and your frustrations. He sees the tears that you are crying. He hears your words that are left unspoken. Stop fighting to hold all of the pieces together, and just let yourself be held by the One who loves you. His arms will never tire of holding you up. Speak His word my friend! Declare His promises! Stand upon His truths! Allow Him to speak peace into your storm today.

Encouragement

Lord, I Don’t Always Understand

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Lord, I don’t always understand, and I’m not going to pretend that I do. This year has been so hard. I’ve questioned why you have allowed things to happen. I’ve been angry more than I care to admit. I’ve been confused, frustrated, distraught, and defeated more than not. But Lord, I’m still standing on your Word and believing in Your promises. I don’t know what Your plan for us is, but I know that I trust You. I don’t have all of the answers, but I know You are teaching me. I don’t know where we’re going, what we’re doing, or how we’ll even end up there, but I know You are guiding us and will be with us every step of the way. Help me to surrender Lord. I want to surrender it all! Help me to conquer this battle of fear and doubt. Help me to walk by Your faith and not by my sight. Teach me Your ways! Mold me and shape me into what You would have me to be. Help me to see every battle as an opportunity; an opportunity to grown and to learn to lean more and more on You. I know Your plans for me are good and that You love me.

Encouragement, Momma Prayers

Today I Pray For The Momma That Can’t Find The Words

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Lord, today I pray for the momma that can’t find the words. She can’t find the words to explain how her heart and mind are flooded with more emotions than she has the words to express. Right now Lord, she feels like her world is spinning out of control and she doesn’t know how much more she can handle. As the tears stream down her face, she wants to call out to You Father. As she is gasping for her next breath in between her sobs, she wants to tell you how desperately she needs your help. She wants to tell you that she needs You to listen to her as she pours her heart out to you, and that she longs for you to wrap her in your love, calm her fears, and to let her know that everything is going to be okay,  but no matter how hard she tries, the words just won’t come. With each word she attempts to speak, the tears only flow harder, and the words stall upon her tongue. It’s been a while since she’s talked to you Lord, and she wonders if you still even hear her; if you still even care for her. Things haven’t gone the way that she though they would Lord, and she just doesn’t understand. She doesn’t know what to do, and she has no where else to turn. She needs you to move in her life Father. She’s tired and she’s broken, and she can’t carry these burdens alone anymore. She wants to tell you Lord, but the words… they just won’t come. Lord, I don’t know what she is going through, but I know that you do. I don’t know the fears that have kept her awake at night, nor the pain she might be experiencing right now, but I know that you see every tear that she has cried and that you are with her this very moment. Father, I pray that you will speak peace unto her heart today. Remind her that even when her words won’t come, that you hear her heart. You know every detail of her life and her circumstances…and she didn’t have to utter a word. Thank you for Lord for hearing our prayers even when our burdened hearts won’t allow us to speak. Thank you for your Holy Spirit which intercedes on our behalf with groans that our words could never even express ( Romans 8:26). I thank you for what you are doing in this momma’s life today Lord. I ask these things in Jesus name. Amen.

Encouragement

Hot Mess Express

All Aboard The Hot Mess Express

You pull into the parking lot on 2 wheels, while gently ushering (who am I kidding, you’re flat out yelling right now) at your kids to get their shoes back on, to stop poking one another, and to quit wiping their snot on the clothes you spent 30 minutes digging out of Mt. Clothesoovious, that sprung to life in your bedroom 2 weeks ago that you’ve yet found the time or energy to tackle,( don’t even get me started on finding a matching pair of socks ) and you threaten their mere existence if they unbuckle ONE more time before your van stops moving completely. Church started 10 minutes ago and time is ticking. You frantically jump out after throwing your van into park, heart racing, sweat dripping (you remember the extra strength deodorant you bought sitting on the bathroom counter (that you forgot to put on) because everyone suddenly was unable to blink on their own and needed you to do it FOR them simultaneously). You find some auto fabric freshener and decide its better than nothing and douse yourself with “New Car Scent”. You begin unbuckling car seats, reviewing manners and behavior expectations while herding the small army you and your husband created towards the church doors. You’re almost there! A-L-M-O-S-T! You reach for your purse/diaper/mom bag, but you can’t find it. You jump back in the van and start digging through the 4 inches of french fries and Goldfish crackers covering the floor. You suddenly remember it’s sitting by the bathroom door, where you left it, when you’re family decided they wanted to try for the Olympic gold medal for synchronized pooping when it was time to walk out the door. You feel that frustration start rising. The tears start welling up. While stepping out of the van you snag your sweater and it rips. Last straw level…reached. Your sweet, loving, kindhearted, good intentioned husband asks you if you’re okay and with one deep “Big Bad Wolf” inhalation, you recap your entire morning, while tears start rolling down your cheeks and you answer with a snarky, “Oh I’m FINE! JUST FINE!”. He looks at you like a deer paralyzed looking into oncoming traffic, afraid that if he moves the wrong way, he WILL die. Satan starts telling you what a terrible mom and wife you are. He fills your head with mom-guilt (your kids are going to hate you and move out on their own by the age of 6 because you’re a terrible human being) He tells you…look at you, all of these other moms have it together…you don’t see them pulling in here, hysterical and smelling like an air freshener hanging from their rearview mirror. You wipe the mascara off your cheeks (remembering you should have got waterproof) and then… here it comes…PSALM 42:11

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

REVELATION! When I allow myself to get caught up in the rush, in the chaos, in the trivial things of this world and I take my eyes and focus off of the important things of God…I land myself in an overwhelmed and exhausted mess, EVERYTIME. I need to focus on my relationship with my Savior and draw my strength and joy from HIM! I have to turn my worries into worship and transform my anxieties into praises for HIM! My hope is in the LORD! NO ONE, NOT A SINGLE PERSON, “has it all together”, but GREATER IS HE LIVING IN ME, THAN HE THAT IS IN THIS WORLD. (JOHN 4:4) We ALL struggle but how we choose to handle it makes the difference. ❤ Make an effort to praise HIM through your struggles today. God loves you and I do to!