WORDS FROM A FELLOW MOM

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I’ve been feeling words rolling around in my heart and mind lately and decided maybe these words aren’t just for me. Maybe you need to hear them too.

Last Saturday, our youngest child graduated from high school. And man, did this one hit me hard! When you graduate your first child……it is weeping and nashing of teeth. You just cannot imagine sending off your first born into the cold, cruel world. But you do……and five years and a LSU diploma later…….she (and you) made it and she’s doing just great!!

When our second child graduated high school, I don’t remember any tears at all. Just feelings of joy, and gladness, and thankfulness and relief that SHE made it and I made it……and we both lived to tell of it!! 🙂 And three years later, she too is doing great!

But that last child……that’s another story. Not only my last child, but my only son. And not just my only son, but the end of a season of parenting and raising children as I’ve known it. I don’t think I was quite prepared for the gammit of emotions that I would be feeling, and quiet honestly, am still feeling. I will always be a mother to my children but my season of RAISING them is over. I’ve done my job the best that I’ve known how to and all three of them are now RAISED. How they choose to live their lives and honor God with their lives……is now up to them. Thankfully, and only by the grace of God, all three of them truly love God and are serving Him beautifully in their own unique way……and as their mother, there is not a greater gift they could give me!

As I’m exiting this season of raising children, I find myself thinking of all you moms who are still deep in that season. And I find myself telling you things in my heart and praying for you and giving you caution as you navigate this oh so important season in your life. So today, I decided to write out the words that I’ve had in my heart for you and pray that these words would encourage you, and secretively wish someone would have spoken these words to me many, many years ago.

Here goes:

(1) EVERYTHING REALLY IS GOING TO BE OK…..REALLY!!

On the other side of whatever you are walking through, as a wife or as mother, it really is going to be fine. When we’re in the middle of “it”, “it” is always magnified 10 million times bigger than it really is. Take a deep breath, throw your shoulders back, set your eyes forward…….and keep walking THROUGH “it”!

Don’t stop. Don’t wallow. Don’t have a pity party.

Just keep walking, keep praying, keep holding onto His promises for you and your children. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.

There is the other side. And it’s going to be just fine when you get there.

It may not look like what you envisioned. But whatever is on the other side of what you or your children may be walking through, it will all be ok because God is already there……and you can trust Him completely.

(2) DON’T TAKE YOURSELF SO SERIOUSLY.

You’re not the worst mom in the world. Really, you’re not!

We are all really trying the best we can. Some days we do good, and other days we’ve messed up really badly. But it’s ok. Tomorrow is another day, with new mercies and new grace for a new day.

When you mess up…..apologize.

When you want to give up……don’t.

When you feel like you’re a screw up…..you’re not.

When you want to blow up…..call a friend.

And when you want to walk away…..run to God.

(3) STOP COMPARING YOURSELF.

Mama’s……STOP comparing yourself to every other mother who you think has it all together. Because they don’t. Your children don’t want you to be the perfect mom. They want you to be YOU. Even with all your imperfections…..they love YOU. Nobody else can be the mother to your children that you can be. If your children needed another mama, God would have given them someone else. But He didn’t…..He gave them YOU and He knew exactly what He was doing!

Of course we are all growing and learning, and aspire to be more Christ-like every single day. But at the end of the day, God made YOU. You, the mother, that at times may be short-tempered, and low on patience, and “I cannot pack another lunch or cook another meal” mama. You may not have the tidiest house or the cleanest car. Most days you don’t know if you’re coming or going. And many days, if you can just glance at your Bible on the end table, you count that as a success! You may be the least creative and most disorganized mother in the entire 3rd grade but your kids don’t care…..they love YOU.

Now…… you start loving YOU!!

(4) Start falling in love with your husband again……TODAY!!

There is a day coming soon, (TRUST ME ON THIS ONE!) that you’re going to look across the room and see that husband of yours and it’s just you and him in the house now. No kids to hide behind, no school activities to stay busy with. No carpooling to do, no field trips to attend, no birthday party’s to go to……just you and that man whom you adored all those years ago when you both said, “I do” to one another.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve thought to myself, “I sure am glad that I deeply love and really like 🙂 Eugene…..or we’d be in pretty bad shape right now!” For years, we’ve counseled married couples, either through our messages on Sunday or one-on-one conversations, to make your spouse the priority over your children. And thank God we practiced what we preached!! Because now we are facing one another in a whole new light and whole new season……..and we’re not dreading it at all!! In fact, once we get over the shock of our last child leaving home, we’re going to be pretty excited about this whole empty nest thing!!

If you haven’t already done it, or you need some encouragement to do better: START TODAY!! Start loving and honoring and investing into your spouse and your marriage….TODAY!! There will come a day when you will thank me for this one….I promise!!

(5) God is good and He is faithful….period.

God is good….even when we are not.

God is faithful….even when we are not.

And God is good and He is faithful to your children…..even if you don’t see it right now.

As I’ve reflected lately back over the years……those are the two resounding thoughts in my head: God is good and He is faithful.

In good seasons of parenting: God is good and He is faithful.

In terrible seasons of parenting: God is good and He is faithful.

When my kids were in a great season: God is good and He is faithful.

And when my kids were in a dark, difficult season: God is good and He is faithful.

As I looked at our family picture at William’s graduation, and saw all three of our children loving and serving God and working to build His kingdom, I was overcome with emotion as I thought: God is good and He has been faithful to our family.

And the same is true for your family and your children: God is good and He is faithful. Even if you’re family picture isn’t what you’d hoped it would be……He’s still good and He’s still faithful.

Psalm 119: 68 “God…you are good and what you do is good.”

A promise to all of us……even us mothers. Especially when we’ve blown it.

Rest, relax, savor and treasure those words: God is good and He only does good. It may not be good now but in the end, it will be good. If it’s not good, it’s not the end yet.

So mama’s, go enjoy your husband and your children and this season of parenting that you are currently in. Stop worrying and fretting and wishing this season away because one day your wish will come true and your season of raising children will be over. Leave your season with no regrets!!

I haven’t been the perfect mother. Are there things I wished I’d done differently? Sure!! Are there mistakes that I’ve made? Absolutely!! Are there areas that I wish I could go back and re-do? Without a doubt!! But I have done my best and I’ve honored God to the best of my ability.

And by the grace of God, I walk out of this season with no regrets.

All because God is good and He is faithful!! Amen!

What does Jesus look like?

Have you ever wondered what Jesus looks like?  Contrary to all the pictures we may have seen of Him, I think we’ll be surprised when we come face to face with Him one day.  But until that day comes, Jesus has already given us a glimpse of what He looks like here on earth.  How do I know that?  Because I saw Him last night.

Last night, our church held our first annual Harvest Fest at North Elementary in Opelousas.   North Elementary is an under privileged school that we’ve adopted, to give them what many of them don’t have….HOPE and LOVE. (For the  background of our involvement at North Elementary, read one of my previous blogs titled “Find the ONE”) Not completely sure what kind of turn-out to expect, our team came ready to serve our community with the love of God.  Well, by night’s end, over 1400 people had come through the gates of the school!!

After getting home last night, I had such an overwhelming sense of the smile of God, over us as a church and over our community.  Countless people had genuinely thanked us throughout the evening, totally blown away by our love and compassion for the city of Opelousas.  A community that has longed sensed the sting of poverty and racism, had now felt the love and hope that only Jesus can bring.  I felt as if my heart was going to burst!!  And I could only imagine how the heart of God must have felt.

Jesus tells a story in Matthew 26 about feeding, clothing, and welcoming the poor, lonely and hopeless.  He goes on to say that “whenever you do one of these things to someone who is overlooked or ignored, that was Me….YOU DID IT TO ME.”

So last night, we saw Jesus.  This is what He looked like:

*A frail, elderly grandmother trying to keep up with all of her grandchildren….that was Jesus.

*A young, teen-age mother, carrying her newborn baby, while her other children ran around like it was Christmas morning….that was Jesus.

**Young girls who were pregnant, barely more than a child themselves….that was Jesus.

**Many, many children who said they’d never owned a bicycle (and some who walked away with their very first one!)….that was Jesus.

**Teenage young men who just came to check out what we were doing, but left having felt valued because other men took the time to talk with them and take an interest in their lives…..that was Jesus.

**Single moms, who’s very expressions on their faces, said “Thank you!! I needed this help!”….that was Jesus.

**Teachers and faculty of North Elementary, who very seldom feel the appreciation that is due to them, walking away overwhelmed at the love of God through His people….that was Jesus.

**Infant babies, dressed up as everything from witches, to lions, to princesses, to even a precious little lamb…..that was Jesus.

**Mothers & fathers, aunties & uncles, cousins & neighbors, brothers & sisters….who simply was looking for a fun evening with their families, not having to worry about their safety or security…..that was Jesus.

**And finally, countless volunteers, staff, cooks, students and police officers who took the day off from work, to serve this wonderful school and community…..they represented Jesus.

I’ve been in ministry a  long time.  You would think events like this would become the “norm” of what we do.  But it’s not.  There’s nothing “normal” about it. It’s the supernatural, tangible love and goodness of God that draws men, women, children, aunties, uncles and grandmothers (and even pastors and leaders 🙂 ) to Him. 

 I know it’s supernatural….because I sensed Him.

I know it’s tangible…because I felt Him.

I know what Jesus looks like….because I saw Him….last night.

Not a way OUT but a way THROUGH

For the past six weeks, I have taught our women’s bible study groups on the friendship of David and Jonathon…”Two are better than one…”  As God ALWAYS does, He has taught me MUCH more than I could ever teach our women. One teaching in particular, really struck a chord in my heart. 

After David was anointed as king of Israel by the prophet, Samuel….after He defeated the giant, Goliath, after He served in Saul’s household and army, David suddenly found himself on the run for his life.  Saul’s love and admiration towards David turned quickly to hatred and jealousy.  David was being hunted down and assaulted, not for what he had done WRONG but for what he had done RIGHT.  Saul didn’t hate David because he has evil; Saul hated David because he was good.  Ever felt that way??  Suffering persecution and animosity from others, not because of what you’ve done wrong but because of what you’ve done right??  (But that’s another blog, for another time!! :))

As I continued to study the life and relationship of David and Jonathon, God revealed a truth to my heart.  INSTEAD OF GOD SENDING DAVID A WAY OUT OF HIS SITUATION, HE CHOSE TO SEND HIM A FRIEND.  Someone to walk with, to encourage, to strengthen David in his most dire days.  God could have easily wiped Saul out of the picture and immediately placed David on the throne as king of Israel.  But He did not.  He instead chose for David to walk THROUGH  those difficult circumstances, but in His graciousness….God sent David a friend named Jonathon.

I’m afraid that so many times, as we pray for a way OUT of our current circumstances, we miss the very people that God has sent into our lives to help us walk THROUGH those same circumstances.  Our Heavenly Father, in His love and mercy, doesn’t desire us to be alone in this life.  He has sent us friends to walk with us….in good times and in bad.  Are we so busy praying for a way OUT, that we don’t recognize the very people God has sent us, to help us walk THROUGH?

David himself, wrote in Psalm 23, “ even though I walk THROUGH the darkest valley….You are with me.”  We must not stay or camp out in the valley.  Our responsibility is to walk THROUGH the valley, confident that God is with us, but even more confident that God will send us friends….while we continue walking. Friends that will pray for us, when we can’t pray for ourselves.  Friends to have faith for us, when our faith has run out.  Friends to believe in us, when we genuinely don’t believe in ourselves anymore.  Not a way OUT, but a way THROUGH.

Have you been praying for a way OUT, when in reality God is asking you to walk THROUGH?  Have you recognized the people that He has sent  you to strengthen and encourage you while you’re walking?

  I give you permission to only stop walking for a moment.  Stop long enough to look around and truly see WHO God has sent to you to help you walk THROUGH

 Ok….that’s long enough. Embrace and receive those friendships as a blessing and gift from your Heavenly Father.  Now keep going…keep walking…..YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

S.P.A. Night Recap

This past Sunday, we had our first S.P.A. (Spiritual Principles Applied) night of the 2011 season.  It was our largest S.P.A. night EVER!!! 🙂  My heart continues to be filled with gratitude & awe of the faithfulness of God to our women as we head into our 10th year of women’s ministry at Our Savior’s Church.

Just in case you missed it, or if you need to be reminded 🙂 , here’s a brief recap:

As I used the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) for the basis of my message, we learned that God is asking (and even expects) us to take time for the ONE person that He is sending to us to show them His love.  So many times, we can get overwhelmed at the great needs we see in our families, our neighborhoods, our work place, our community and even our nation, and we wonder what ONE person can do to make a difference.

Because of that mindset, I think the enemy keeps us held back from doing ANYTHING because we don’t realize the power of ONE.  Throughout the Gospels, we read of Jesus’ teachings of finding  just ONE.  ONE sheep, ONE coin, ONE lost son…ONE beaten and battered person, left for dead on the side of the road.  Just ONE.  Though Jesus did command us to “Go and make disciples of all nations”, He knew we could only do it ONE person at a time.

Never before has there been a time that people’s hearts are so open and ready to hear and receive the Good News of God’s love for them.  Through the story of the Good Samaritan, we see 3 things that God is asking of each ONE of us:  Find the ONE, Reach the ONE and Be the ONE.  Find just ONE person you sense that God is bringing across your path; reach that ONE by not just praying for them, but DOING SOMETHING for them in their time of need; and finally, be the ONE to that person by allowing God’s love, grace and forgiveness to work through you. Represent Jesus to that person. Remember, it’s the “GOODNESS of God that leads us (people) to repentance”.

Nothing complicated about that mandate:  Just ONE.  Not your entire family, or neighborhood, or work place or community.  Just ONE.  And if each ONE of us took that mandate seriously…..then we could see ENTIRE families/neighborhoods/work places, communities CHANGED FOR THE GOOD AND FOR GOD’S GLORY!!

So take this little reminder and FIND THE ONE, REACH THE ONE, and BE THE ONE today, this week, next week and so on and let’s see together what God will do in our worlds!!

I would LOVE to hear your stories of your ONE!!  Please email me at FindYourOne@arisewomen.com and tell me about it!!  TOGETHER we can bring a huge smile to the face of God as we are obedient to the ONE.

A Heart Like His

Most of us have read about the life of David in I & II Samuel a million times. There is no other person in the Bible that more is written about than David.  This fall session of women’s bible study, I am teaching on the friendship of David and Jonathon.  But before I can teach on their relationship, I had to first give some background on David’s life.

In re-reading about David’s life, something “stuck” on me that I couldn’t shake. The Bible says that when God was searching for a king to lead Israel, he found a “man after God’s own heart”.  I know that I’ve read that a million times over my lifetime, but something was different this time.  God found someone’s heart that He recognized as resembling His own heart.

I wonder how many other people God looked at when searching for a new king?  How many other hearts did He gaze on, only to pass them by because their heart condition wasn’t one that looked like His own?

David didn’t come from a royal bloodline (in fact, he had despised Moabite blood in his family heritage), he wasn’t from a family of priests or prophets.  David wasn’t even “called into the ministry”.  There was absolutely NOTHING special about David. Nothing special except the pure heart that he carried.  A heart that loved God.  A heart that looked much like God’s own heart.  A heart that was so exceptional in God’s eyes that God chose David to be king  BECAUSE OF HIS HEART.

I don’t know about you but I find great encouragement in that revelation!!  There are many things in my life that I cannot change.  I can’t change many of my circumstances. I can’t change my family history or heritage.  I can’t change some of the mistakes that I’ve made, or disappointments of my past.  But there is one thing that I can change:  THE CONDITION OF MY HEART. 

 I alone can change the condition and purity of my own heart.  I can make sure that nothing sinful stays in my heart.  I can guard my heart against unforgiveness, bitterness or resentment.  I can open my heart for God to fill it with more of His love, His compassion, His grace, His forgiveness.  I HAVE THE POWER TO CARRY A HEART LIKE HIS.  A heart that can look much like the heart of God.

That’s the only qualification that God is looking for when His eyes roam over the earth to find someone who He can use for His glory:  A HEART LIKE HIS OWN.   David caught God’s eyes because of his pure heart.  Can the same be said of me?  Of you?  May our pure hearts capture God’s attention when He’s searching for someone to be used by Him.

What choices do you need to make today for your heart to resemble the heart of your Father?  Is there someone you need to forgive?  Is there someone you need to release to God because you’ve allowed them to control your life long enough? Do you need to repent because of things you’ve carried in your heart that no one else knows about….except God?

Those choices aren’t easy to make, but they are necessary to carry a HEART LIKE HIS. I think we all have room in our hearts for more of God’s grace, faith, love, hope, and forgiveness.

I don’t want the eyes of God to pass me by because I haven’t allowed Him to purify my heart. My greatest desire is for His eyes to see in me a HEART THAT LOOKS LIKE HIS.  I think that’s the greatest accomplishment of all.  Some days I think I carry that heart. Other days, it seems like I have such a long way to go.

Will you join me in making a committment to our Heavenly Father? 

 A committment in carrying a HEART LIKE HIS.

 

The Right Thing

Over the past week, I’ve had to ask myself this question multiple times: “In the eyes of God, what’s the RIGHT thing to do?”  Not what I feel like doing, not what is justified for me to do, not what people expect me to do, but in the eyes of God, what’s the RIGHT thing?

This may sound very simple to those reading this, but when there is a major action required on your part that could change everything in your life, the question isn’t so simple.  I’ve lived my life trying to do what’s right.  Right in the eyes of God and right in the eyes of others.  Sometimes those two things coincide, but many times they don’t.  Right in the eyes of God ALWAYS trumps the eyes or opinions of others. And so many more times, THE EYES OF GOD are the only eyes seeing you do the right thing.

God blesses “right-ness”.  In fact, the Bible calls it righteousness…right choices… doing the right thing.  I’m more committed to doing what’s right in God’s eyes now more than ever. Whether other people see and recognize it or not…God sees, God knows, God blesses our “right-ness”.

I’ve never been a person that’s wrestled with outward, blatant sins. But in the deepest places of my heart, I know whether I’ve done right in God’s eyes or not.  I know whether I’ve pleased the heart of God or not. And I also know those times when I’ve chosen to think that some of my decisions or actions aren’t that big of a deal, but when looking back,  I realize that I may have disappointed Him.  Not in sinning but in NOT doing what was right in His eyes.

So as I faced a very important decision last week, I DID WHAT WAS RIGHT IN GOD’S EYES.  Most people will never know that decision, but GOD KNOWS.  And I think that He was pleased.  I could have easily justified doing nothing, much less what was right. But the greatest desire of my heart is to bring pleasure to His heart.  It’s not always easy, but it’s always RIGHT.

Be still and KNOW…thoughts from the beach (part II)

Continuing my thoughts from our beach vacation 🙂

When I felt God speak the revelation to me about being still….”Heidi, it’s your responsibility to be STILL…it’s My responsibility for you to KNOW”, I began to wonder how many other significant things does God want to tell me, but my mind has been too busy to hear Him?

I don’t think God is holding on to His wisdom, revelations, instructions or knowledge, expecting us to beg for it.  I think there is MUCH He wants to speak to us but far too often, we’re just too busy to “be still” and hear Him.  My prayer is that I will continue to “be still” in my heart and mind.  Even though life continues on after the beach get-a-way, I can purposely STILL my mind and heart to hear Him better.

God reveals Himself, His heart and His purposes to us through stillness.

There’s a passage of scripture in the book of Matthew, that my husband and I read many times over while on vacation.  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. LEARN THE UNFORCED RHYTHMS OF GRACE. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt. 11: 28-30 Message Bible)

How many of us can relate to those verses??  God instructs us to LEARN (which means we may not currently know how) the UNFORCED RHYTHMS OF GRACE.  That is now our new mantra: learning the unforced rhythms of God’s grace. His promise to us is that He won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on us.  If I feel the “heaviness”, then it simply means that either I’m putting that weight on myself (which is usually the case!! :)) or I’m allowing someone else to put it on me.  God IS NOT placing a heavy weight on me….or on you.

I find myself at the doorway of an entirely new season in my life. My second daughter is a senior this year and will be graduating and moving away to college by this time next year, which will leave only one teenager at home.  I will be facing an “empty nest” before I know it.  Spiritually, I’m also facing a new season.  So much of what God has spoken to me about assignments He has given me, I am on the brink of seeing those things come to pass.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that God is speaking STILLNESS to me at this season of my life. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that He’s helping me to LEARN THE UNFORCED RHYTHMS OF GRACE either.  I think He knows what will be absolutely necessary for me to walk forward into this new and exciting season: BE STILL AND KNOW…..

Enough about me…..let’s talk about you! 🙂

Are you STILL enough in your heart and mind, to hear the voice of God if He needed to tell you something?  Do you desire to KNOW Him more, but haven’t been STILL enough to listen?  Have you allowed the HEAVINESS of life and responsibilities to weigh you down?  Do you also need to LEARN THE UNFORCED RHYTHMS OF GOD’S GRACE?

Half of the battle is just recognizing where you are.  It’s not too late to begin making some changes in your life.  It’s not too late to begin to BE STILL and it’s certainly not too late to begin to KNOW HIM.  What are some changes you need to make? 

Do ONE thing each day to STILL yourself.  Turn off the radio/music in your car and just listen with your heart. Take a moment to simply sit down and BE STILL.  It will take some time for your mind to settle down but be patient….it will happen.  Get up a little earlier, just to sit and listen to what God wants to say to you.  Take a walk outside (in the cool of the day, of course!) without your ipod, and BE STILL in your mind and heart, enjoying the creation of God.

It is simply amazing what STILLNESS will do for you!!

“BE STILL and KNOW that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  Psalm 46:10