25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 23

Good Morning lovelies! I hope your day is off to a great start! If not, join the club haha. My day today is actually going well, but I have my share of bad days! When I get a chance, I take advantage of those days and use any spare time I may have to study, read a good book, look at inspirational quotes or get outside! These are all things that lift me up, I hope you have discovered things you can turn to as well!

Let’s get started on our study today! (Yes, Jeannie, I am behind by one chapter! Whoops! God sees my intentions right, lol) I can’t believe how much goodness is in the Word!

Main points for today are:

  • Don’t be a hypocrite!
  • Be humble
  • A promise is a promise
  • Look at the big picture
  • The outside is no representation of the inside
  • Stop blaming the generations before you

 

  • Don’t be a hypocrite!

Matthew 23:1-4 (The Message): “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.'”

This hit me hard. The way this scripture compares being a hypocrite to putting a heavy load on someone else’s shoulders but not volunteering to help with the load, was big! I think to the lessons I try to teach our children daily. They are good lessons, and sure they should try their best to follow them……but do I try my best to do the same things I am asking of them? Or do I put great expectations on them and expect them to figure it out themselves? Do you see the word “disciple” in “discipline?” Guilty! I pray that I am constantly reminded of my job as a mother, to first and foremost be a disciple to our children.

  • Be humble

Matthew 23: 8-12 (The Message): “‘Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let Him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them- Christ. Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.'”

I LOVE the very first line. “Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that.” We are ALL following the same Teacher here. There may be students in class who are better at giving reports or some that are better at running the camera, but we all have the SAME TEACHER. In the end, we are all held accountable for the same assignment and have the same expectations regardless of our natural talents. Some people thought math was a breeze, others really struggled. The ones who were naturals could become tutors if they wanted to help the others, but they did not become the teacher just because they were quick learners.

I also, love the part that says, “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant………But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.” I have become so passionate about the power behind just being yourself and being unashamed about being human. The people you are afraid of, have simply just learned how to put on a bigger show. They are just as broken as you are.

  • A promise is a promise

Matthew 23:16-22 (The Message): “‘You’re hopeless! What arrogant stupidity! You say, ‘If someone makes a promise with his fingers crossed, that’s nothing; but if he swears with his hand on the Bible, that’s serious.’ What ignorance! Does the leather on the Bible carry more weight than the skin on your hands? And what about this piece of trivia: ‘If you shake hands on a promise, that’s nothing; but if you raise your hand that God is your witness, that’s serious? What ridiculous hairsplitting! What difference does it make whether you shake hands or raise hands? A promise is a promise. What difference does it make if you make your promise inside or outside a house of worship? A promise is a promise. God is present, watching and holding you to account regardless.”‘

Good point. God is watching no matter where we are or what we are doing when we make a promise. We are held accountable after that. No excuses as to why that promise didn’t count.

  • Look at the big picture

Matthew 23:23-24 (NIV): “‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.'”

A lot of people make a big deal out of tithing, and it is important. There is so much more to giving tithe though. Do you think God gives us a pat on the back if we give our weekly tithe at church but then leave and do not follow the teachings? We get so distracted, arguing about the right way to tithe that we no longer have the time to concentrate on what really matters.

  • The outside is no representation of the inside

Matthew 23:27-28 (NIV) paints the perfect picture: “‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.'”

Not only should we work on the inside of us instead of worrying about the outside, but we need to apply this to other people, as well. OK, we know that things aren’t always as they appear. Instead of saying “don’t judge,” let’s instead make it a point to get to know the very people we are (because we are human) judging. After all, the only way to see past the outside appearances is to really dig in deep and look at the inside. If the inside isn’t looking too pretty we have a few choices…..among them: pray for them, provide a listening ear, show them you are not judging, relate to them, break down the walls, simply be there for them, show them you aren’t leaving like other people have, or (if you must) set boundaries and remove yourself from the relationship if God lays that on your heart. I don’t see the last option being God’s first option. If we look at how Jesus behaved during his time on Earth, it was most often from grace and compassion, not hate, bitterness and envy.

  • Stop blaming the generations before you

Matthew 23:33-34 (The Message): “‘Snakes! Reptilian sneaks! Do you think you can worm your way out of this? Never have to pay the piper? It’s on account of people like you that I send prophets and wise guides and scholars, generation after generation – and generation after generation you treat them like dirt, greeting them with lynch mobs, hounding them with abuse.'”

I applied this to parents and grandparents. We try to worm our way out of things we’ve done by blaming our parents. Sometimes, taking it even further and holding grudges or resentment. There is no doubt that our childhood and past play a big part in how we were molded into the person we are today. The thing we get wrong, I think, is that we are just as mold-able today! For some reason we think that we were molded and then fired in the kiln, never to be reshaped again. Only broken if we are mistreated.

If we allow our experiences, the people who surround us, The Word and most of all -God- to mold us until our last day, that is where freedom shows up. Why do we get ourselves stuck in the past. Why do we allow our past trials to chain us up? Why do we feel better if we blame it on the way we were raised or not raised? The truth is, we are humans raising humans here and that is kind of scary! lol Our parents made mistakes and we will make mistakes. That’s just human nature. God is all about forgiveness and freedom! Take the very hard step of forgiving your parents or grandparents. First tell God you forgive them and ask for His forgiveness for your grudge, then forgive yourself, then let them know you forgive them (if appropriate or possible). I think this is important even for those who are deceased (someone deceased, whom you hold unforgiveness towards). It will change your entire world, I promise.

 

 

 

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25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 22

Merry -Day After- Christmas! I hope you all enjoyed your break! I know mine was full of new traditions, quality time, missing people and new ways of thinking. I don’t know about you, but I am starting to learn about the things that really matter to me.

I had a nice walk with God this morning and asked for clarity and direction. I am so glad the new year comes right after such a busy time of the year. Getting all of the busyness out of the way and now it’s time to focus on the new year! I’m feeling less like the new year is bringing on a ton of new expectations and more like it is a chance to clean the slate, slow down and focus on the day to day in a different light. I just keep visualizing taking tiny bites each day in order to get to a day where I have eaten the entire thing. My focus this year will be balance and this series is a perfect example of that! You guys are helping me read the bible, one chapter at a time!

On that note, let’s move on to the next chapter!

Main points:

  • All are invited, few are chosen
  • Giving back
  • God of the living, not dead
  • Love God first, but also love your neighbors as yourself

 

 

  • All are invited, few are chosen

Matthew 22:14 (NIV): “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

This story of the wedding banquet and all of those who were invited, spoke to me in many ways. At first, I thought how rude to kick someone out who couldn’t afford nice clothing! I see now, that the old clothes represents our old ways and showing up to the celebration covered in our old ways. God has provided an incredible celebration for us and he invites us all. However, just being invited does not mean you will be allowed to stay for the celebration. You can not show up but refuse to participate and expect a piece of the reward. You can not simply show up to church but refuse to apply the concepts in your everyday life. You can not simply boast about your salvation but refuse to put it to good use by helping others. Well, you can, but you may not end up where you were hoping. In the dark.

  • Giving back

Matthew 22:19-21 (NIV): “‘Show me the coin used for paying the tax.’ They brought Him a denarius, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. Then he said to them, ‘So give back to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.'”

First I apply this to money, when I read it in a literal sense. Return debt back to the world who gave it to you. Return your tithe to God and His works, for He gave it to you. I also see how this could apply to our actions. Give forgiveness back to those who have given it to you. Give the cold shoulder back to those who give it to you. Now careful how you take this. I don’t mean to react out of anger as they have to you. I mean give it back. Don’t accept the anger, but simply give it back. He said to give the denarius back to Caesar, not hit him over the head with it! If someone is constantly giving you anger, gently give it back and refuse to hold onto the anger. There is no use in starting a collection of anger. Before you know it, you will cross the line between collecting and hoarding. We have all seen the devastating effects of hoarding. Just watch the television show!

  • God of the living, not dead

Matthew 22:31-32 (NIV): “‘But about the resurrection of the dead – have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but the living.'”

God does not watch the show, attend your funeral, scoop you up and take you to heaven. He is not a spectator. He is living and with us during every moment of our days. When I visualize faith and God’s will, I see movement. Like the wind. You can’t necessarily see the wind, but you can see how it effects everything it touches.

  • Love God first, but also love your neighbors as yourself

Matthew 22: 37-40 (The Message): “Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. ‘ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.'”

We all know these two commandments and try our best to follow them. One point I wanted to bring up was on the love others as you love yourself commandment. Have you ever looked at this and wondered….what about the people who have a hard time loving themselves? This is a deep rooted issue and each person has their different reasons for losing their self esteem. Do you find it hard to love on others when you are going through a season of not loving yourself? Do you notice that when you are angry at yourself, you tend to snap at others? Another thing I wondered about was: if we make a concentrated effort to love others, will we eventually start to love ourselves because of it? It’s kind of a catch 22, huh? I think it is important to find BALANCE (my new years resolution!). If we make a small effort each day to both love ourselves and others, I think we will start to see relief!! Loving God first is most important. If we model our actions after those of Jesus while he was on Earth, I think we will start to see life making a little more sense.

 

I Would Never Starve My Child

Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more in the media about moms who have left their children in a freezing car/heat of the summer or children who have been neglected due to their parents being on drugs. In school we learned of children who were locked in attics and shut off from the world, never learning how to talk. As a mother, myself, I have to really give myself a pep talk before even reading these stories. They are mortifying! We post about them on social media and leave our comments on how we think they should be punished. We cry and think to ourselves how we would NEVER -ever- starve our child or intentionally put them in harm’s way. Or would we?

In light of the recent teen suicides occurring in our Colorado hometown, I was inspired to write on the matter. We have two different scenarios here. Stories of physical needs not being met and stories of emotional needs not being met. Both equally devastating.

I’m not here to put blame on anyone or show my anger towards anyone. I’m here because my heart hurts. I not only feel compassion towards the children, but towards those directly involved including mothers, grandparents, aunt and uncles, cousins, friends, their librarian…..whoever else cares for that child.

Hang in here for a minute….. There is an irony here. We say we would throw mothers in jail for not feeding their children or leaving them in the cold, without even realizing we may be doing the same thing. Starving them of attention and leaving them in the cold world without guidance. Making them grow up too early. Chaining them to their school desks and medicating them if they act like children.

What are we doing on the daily to make sure our children KNOW they have a safe haven at home, that they won’t be judged for sharing their yucky feelings, that we are all human and fail from time to time, that we serve a loving Father that will never ever leave us alone in the cold? How are we guiding them to make the best choices even when they are hard? Are we putting our phones away to look them in the eye? Are we praising them for doing hard things in life? Are we spending one on one time with them to learn about what makes them tick? Are we listening to their stories? Do we know who their friends are? Do we know the trials they face at school? Have we sat on their bed at night and asked them hard questions? Have we given them boundaries that may not necessarily be popular? Do we sit down and go over the current trends and decide if they are healthy for our children? Have we given them privacy? Have we allowed them to be children? Do we celebrate their life?

The suicide, the promiscuity, the addictions, the bullying, the eating disorders…..these are not problems, these are symptoms. A cry out for help. When adults get to the end of their rope, they can have an alcoholic beverage, go on vacation, go to counseling, drive off and return a couple of hours later. What kind of outlet have we given our children? What are we teaching our children by our own actions?

Are we starving our children?

I will be 100% transparent with you here and tell you I struggle with at least one if not all of the above things. My oldest daughter has a different father than my two younger children. I would be bold face lying if I said they are treated equally. They aren’t. I hope one day they are. I suffer on a daily basis to show my daughter the affection that I so naturally give to the other two.

*Wow, you must be thinking I am a terrible mother.*

We really need to think about the root of the problem with these children and their relationships. I have spent her entire life wondering where I went wrong and why our relationship seems to be so hard. It’s still a work in progress but I know looking back that I did not have the bonding time with her that I had with the other two. I went through my entire pregnancy and the first 9 months of her life battling against adultery and other battles with her father. At 9 months custody was put into the court’s hands. I saw my 9 month old baby for a week at a time, alternating weeks with her father. At the time, I was in survival mode and did the best I could with what I had. I felt like I did a very good job as a single mother. When she was 3 years old, we got a different judge. A female judge. She could not believe the custody agreement we had and told us, “A baby should never be separated from her mother for that length of time, ever.” I ugly face cried right there in the court room. The thought of handing my baby over every other week just broke my heart into a million pieces, and because of that I built a wall. A wall of protection. I would not allow myself to be hurt anymore and now…..6 years later, that wall is still up. I built it so strong, now not even I can break it down. I wake up everyday thinking constantly about how I can rebuild our relationship and with each interaction her and I have in a day, I try so hard to make her feel wanted and loved and safe. It’s hard. I know how important these connections are and the effect they can have on children as they grow into teenagers and young adults. I KNOW.

And I know that the mothers of these suicide victims fight a hard fight for their children. Some of these mothers have hurts of their own and don’t realize what an impact those hurts are making on their children. It doesn’t always stem from their homes, though. Society is putting up a pretty damn good fight trying to steal the self esteem of our children. From malnourished super models, to cartoons about ego and building an empire to now movies called, “Suicide Squad.” These children need warriors to stand as their line of defense on the daily and because we can’t be everywhere all the time we have to trust that people around them have their best interest in mind. What can we do to ensure that our children and their generation grow up with good intentions and self esteem? How can we help the children we come across daily? We have the power to build them up in just a few words. We can make a difference! Tel them they look beautiful. Thank them for holding the door. Thank them for playing so nicely with our children. Tell them they are doing a great job. Tell them they made you proud for what they did. Encourage them to make the right decision. Find time to invest in their hobbies. Go out of your way.

Let us make a conscious decision to feed our children. May no child be starved.

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 16

We are studying the book of Matthew, chapters 4-28 and we are on chapter 16. How are you all feeling? I feel like I have gained some major insight from reading through these stories. If I am being 100% transparent with you then I will tell you that until the start of this series, I may have opened my bible a total of 10 times with the intention of studying on my own. I never did have this huge interest in reading the bible. If I ever did open it, it was in church or I was led to it from a book study I was doing. My least favorite subject in school was history and I always thought that’s what the bible was…..a huge book of history lessons. I see differently now! Every single chapter we have gone over has had some very valuable hidden treasures buried within it, and I actually find it quite fascinating trying to apply these parables, metaphors and lessons to my own life and sharing it with others!

Let’s dig into chapter 16 and see what the word has for us today. 🙂

Main points:

  • Proof that Jesus is Lord, is in the “sign of Jonah”
  • Watch for the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees
  • Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah and is blessed
  • Jesus is in the driver’s seat, not us

 

  • Proof that Jesus is Lord, is in the “sign of Jonah”

Matthew 16:4 (NIV): “A wicked and adulterous generation lookds for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.’ Jesus then left them and went away.”

Wondering what the “sign of Jonah” is?

This link describes it well:

Question: “What is the sign of Jonah?”


Answer: The phrase “sign of Jonah” was used by Jesus as a typological metaphor for His future crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Jesus answered with this expression when asked by the Pharisees for miraculous proof the He was indeed the Messiah. The Pharisees remained unconvinced of Jesus’ claims about Himself, despite His having just cured a demon-possessed man who was both blind and mute. Shortly after the Pharisees accused Jesus of driving out demons by the power of Satan, they said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:38–41).

We are human and because of that we will naturally have questions. Even growing up as a Christian my whole life, I would be lying if said I hadn’t questioned some part of my beliefs or considered be open to other people’s thinking. You could probably blame this on the rebellious tendencies I have on occasion! ha! Somehow, in all of my questioning though, I am brought back by scripture or by the things I have experienced. The verses above, mentioning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (and his prediction of it!) are proof enough for me! Don’t feel bad for having questions, this just means you are a deep thinker and won’t accept ideas simply because you are told to. You can, however, rest on the fact that you have scripture and the holy spirit to back up any questions you may have!

  • Watch for the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees

Matthew 16:5-7 (NIV): “When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. ‘Be careful,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ They discussed this among themselves and said, ‘It is because we didn’t bring any bread.'”

When the disciples had no physical bread for their journey, they assumed Jesus was warning them against the physical yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

You know I think Jesus and I would have been buds. He gets me! I am always thinking in metaphors and feel like people don’t understand me lol But Jesus was all the time talking in metaphors!!

In Matthew 16:8-12 (NIV) Jesus goes on to explain: “Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, ‘You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Remember from the previous post in chapter 14, when we talked about the bread representing teachings/service? I believe the yeast to be the intentions behind the teachings, just as the yeast is the necessary ingredient needed to make bread. The quality of the yeast, will show in the quality of the bread.

  • Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah and is blessed

Matthew 16:16-19 (NIV): “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.'”

  • Jesus is in the driver’s seat, not us

Matthew 16:24-27 (NIV): “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.'”

This totally reminds me of children thinking they know more than parents. Most of the time kids don’t appreciate the lessons parents instilled in them until they are well into adulthood themselves. It’s just hard to see the situation for what it is, until it’s over and we see God’s perfect plan unfold.

Jesus wants us to have his plan in mind before our own, always thinking WWJD (to be extremely corny) before we react to anything this life brings us. So, let’s be selfless. Isn’t that one of the greatest messages behind life in general? The greatest goal we could ever have is to love like Jesus loves, putting others before ourselves and experiencing the freedom, connections and closeness in our relationships because of it! The grudges we are holding…..we may think it is making us feel better because we had the last word or we may think we have “the right” to feel the way we do but in reality, forgiving someone and showing grace towards the situation will change it faster than holding a grudge ever will. Showing grace doesn’t always mean we allow others to walk all over us; showing grace can mean setting boundaries, walking away and letting the other person know that it’s all good. That God must have had a different plan, and we are totally content with going down a different path without holding on to any anger associated with the end of this one. Amen, to that. (Sigh of relief)

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 11

Hi guys! I didn’t forget about you! I’ve sat down with my hot tea, box of Kleenex and my bible and I WILL get these two chapters posted for you! I have been fighting this terrible cold/sinus infection, but I recruited my husband to watch the kids while I rested this morning and I’m finally feeling well enough to open my eyes!

If this is your first time reading, we are on post #8 in the series I like to call “25 Days of December” where we are studying the book of Matthew in an attempt to access some “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction.

I want to remind you that I will be referencing The Message and NIV translations with occasional mentions of biblehub.com. If you do not have a bible handy, you can click here to link straight to Matthew chapter 11 on biblehub.com. In other news, I was recently asked what bible I use. If you would like to view the two bibles I use, you can visit Amazon through these links: link 1 and link 2 and purchase your own! (Note: link 2 is to a bible that is SIMILAR to The Message translation that I use. The exact one I have, is not available on Amazon but the one linked is a women’s version I’m sure you will love! If you are looking to gift one, there are many other versions available including men’s (NIV), youth (The Message) and children versions!)

Now that we have our reading material, let’s get started!

Just a couple of points we will touch on today:

  • You will only understand the value in the Word when you have experienced it
  • God shows himself to ordinary people
  • Live freely in Christ

 

  • You will only understand the value in the Word when you have experienced it

Matthew 11:16-19 (The Message) says: “‘How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope, and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk, but you were always too busy.’ John came fasting and they called him crazy. I came feasting and they called me a lush, a friend of the riffraff. Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.'”

This is what I take away from this: we can’t rely on the word of the majority. We must experience Jesus and make the decisions ourselves!

  • God shows himself to ordinary people

Matthew 11: 25-26 (The Message): “Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: ‘Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.'”

Matthew 11:25-26 (NIV) says it slightly different: “At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.'”

These verses give us hope. In a world where our success/worth tend to be measured by our awards, certificates and titles- God promises us that those who have the faith of a child have access to his kingdom. There are no prerequisites required. The only thing we must do, is BELIEVE! Isn’t it so relieving to know that our Father loves us no matter how many things we have accomplished?

  • Live freely in Christ

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV): “‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.'”

I am extremely relieved to know that coming to our Father for answers, lightens our load instead of adding to it with more expectations and lists of things to do. When I turn to the world for answers on how to stress less, build my business, or parent my children all I find are MORE things to do! More coping mechanisms to add to my day or more books to read on how to parent my children. It gets very overwhelming! The truth is, when we decide to turn to our Father, instead, he LIGHTENS our load and brings peace to our hearts in a way that no other worldly thing can. I had a lesson in this just this morning! I was feeling overwhelmed, confused and unsure why nothing was making me feel the way I expected it to. The answer was BALANCE. A balance between work, serving others, time to myself and rest. Balance. Thank you Lord for this simple answer to my frustrations. ❤

 

 

 

 

Truth or Dare? How About Both.

Truth or Dare? How about both. I dare you to tell the truth.

For those of you (everyone, because I’ve never shared it online) who don’t know why this community of women and ministry aimed towards mothers is such a deep gutted passion of mine, you are about to find out.

You know that place of great sin, the place you filed in the very back of your memories so no one could find it including yourself? The place that we all pretend we have never been to and try daily to hide from our family and friends. The reason we dress really pretty and hold ourselves together in public. The reason we attend church weekly and join every bible study we can. The reason we do good deeds and await the approval of others. That place. That’s the place of great regret, shame and guilt from which this ministry is deep rooted.

I want to share with you how human I am. How imperfect and insecure I am. But I also want to share with you how much God doesn’t see us as those things. How he looks at us with the most loving eyes and gently moves the hair from our faces so that he can see us. The real us. And FORGIVE us! And GROW us. This particular part of my story focuses on my feelings towards motherhood and why it didn’t start out positive.

It begins when I was 17. But how could it start at 17? I am almost 28 and our oldest daughter is almost 7 so that means I had her when I was 21. The answer to that kills me. Our oldest daughter wasn’t my first pregnancy. I could tell you I had a miscarriage but that wouldn’t be true. It was my choice. The ultimate debate. Is it right or wrong to allow children at the age of 17 to decide if they will bring a child into the world or end it’s life before it begins? Right or wrong, I had an abortion. And that’s where this part of my story begins.

Did I feel regret? Did I go into a deep depression? No. I pretended like it didn’t happen. I went on with my senior year of high school just like any other girl my age. Attending school dances, joining the cross country team, going bowling with my friends and stressing because I thought term papers and boy troubles were just too much. You probably want to stop reading because you think I have no morals and something must be wrong with me to feel nothing after such a major event in my life. On the other hand, maybe you understand because you’ve gone through something traumatic enough that it made you numb to the entire world. If that’s you, thank you for understanding.

The next year I joined my boyfriend at college where he began to get violent with me and emotionally torment me. I was no longer able to make decisions for myself, drive to campus by myself, make phone calls on my cell phone by myself or even go to the bathroom by myself. I wasn’t allowed to. Somehow, though, God showed me the little bit of hope I had left and I gained strength enough to leave. So here I was, living on my own, 4 hours from my mom and 12 hours from my dad in an apartment with 3 other partying college girls and no idea how to make decisions for myself after having the right taken away for so long. Within the first week of moving in with these girls, one of them told me, “Oh girl, you haven’t partied right until you’ve peed the bed!” WHAT! This girl is crazy.

Problem is, I turned into her. Drinking myself into dangerous situations, passing out all over town, spending money like it grew on trees, not working, not going to class and eating everything in sight. Well you know where that got me? Broke, fat and sick. I had taken out a school loan large enough to cover all 4 years of school at this University and spent the entire thing in 8 months. I gained over 20 pounds and many more problems than that. I think it’s pretty obvious I did not stay at that school the next year. I moved closer to my mom and attended a small community college working towards my psychology degree. How fitting! Maybe I could get extra credit if they used me as an example in the mental health class.

I started dating someone new. I got pregnant within a few months of us dating…….by choice. Guys you thought the mess was over. It is only beginning. After announcing the pregnancy to his family, they were furious! They told me I was having an abortion. I refused. They told me I would put the baby up for adoption. I refused. After all else failed, they took our house, vehicle, horse…..everything away. I was working full time, sometimes overtime at Starbucks but began to get too dizzy to work. I was also attending classes when I could. He was hosting huge parties in our house while I studied, cheating on me, working about 16 hours a week at a gas station and using any little money we had to buy beer and chew.

We decided to give it one more chance after she was born and move away to go to a college where he could attend on a rodeo scholarship and start over. We were there not even two months when I had had enough. We were living in a trailer that shouldn’t have even been available to rent. Cupboards falling off the hinges, no air conditioning, and the list goes on.  I called my dad to come get our daughter and I and we made the very long trip to live in Colorado near my dad.

2 years later I started dating a new guy. This guy was different! He loved me, he loved my parents and he loved my daughter. He treated me so well I couldn’t help but doubt that it was real. I, again, got pregnant after only a few months of dating. We weren’t married. If God hadn’t given up on me with my first daughter, surely he had now. I knew I had let down my family and anyone else important to me. How much more screwed up could I get?? Well the story gets better after we had our daughter. We got married a year and a half later and FINALLY I did things right and we made the choice to have one more kid INSIDE marriage how God intended it.

Nothing ever goes that smoothly. I had a doctor who didn’t believe me when I told her something was wrong only to find out I had a hole in my uterus large enough to deliver our son out of. Followed by spinal headaches, blood patches and lots of pain and recovery. Followed by postpartum depression, my husband getting laid off, and a cross country move to North Carolina. Those who know me, know that that brings us to today! We are now living in North Carolina and God couldn’t have had a better plan! I feel more alive than I have in my entire life, my husband is reunited with his father and happily working for him in their family business and we are living the country life we have both dreamed of. God and I have talked everyday and had some major healing sessions. Ha. It would take many to bring me out of that mess!!

Ladies, I have never experienced something that feels SO RIGHT in my spirit. The ideas for this blog and all of the future plans that go along with it just came to me so effortlessly. God planted them into me after going through some major healing through forgiveness. To those who hurt me and to myself for hurting others. My past was not the result of a bunch of people hurting me, it was the result of my reacting out of my hurt and making bad decisions. And in their defense, they were only hurting me because they had hurts of their own. It is a viscous cycle. Hurt people hurt people.

You know what God says to that? I CHOOSE YOU. I HAVE A PLAN FOR YOU. I forgive you, now let’s use your MESS and turn it into a MESSAGE!!!!

I Hope My Kids Get Hurt

For those of you reading because you thought, “WHAT kind of mom could possibly WANT her children to get HURT?” Welcome and thank you for joining in on the conversation. 🙂

I promise I don’t abuse my kids or support dictator type parenting styles. I am not some sick mom who doesn’t worry about my kids and what they will come across in this harsh world. In fact, I think I am a good mom for wanting my kids to get hurt. Let me explain.

Through my own struggles, I have come to a season in my own life where I am learning to use those struggles as strengths. And how fitting that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, because I am actually very thankful for my trials. Let me rephrase that. I am very thankful for a loving God who has pulled me up out of those trials and blessed me tremendously with people that are willing to be broken with me.

The abusive relationships (both physically and mentally), the unfaithful partners, the back stabbing friends, the loneliness, the divorce, the tragic events, the hurt, the alcohol, the money spending addiction, the postpartum depression, the anxiety attacks, the constant moving, the blended families, the loss, the untrustworthy doctors…..all of it. I’m thankful for all of it.

Ok, now maybe you may trust that I don’t abuse my kids but are thinking I must be a special kind of crazy to be THANKFUL for all of this hurt!

Guys, how on EARTH would I be able to describe to unbelievers how amazing my God is without relating to them in their deepest hurt, looking into their teary eyes and telling them that I serve a loving and forgiving God? A God who shows grace and forgives us even when we don’t feel like we deserve it. A God who is always with us even when we think we are completely alone in this world. A God who loves us no matter how badly we have screwed up. A God who brings good out of EVERYTHING.

Do I WANT to watch my kids cry or panic or feel lost? Absolutely not!! But I desperately want them to feel the deepest kind of love I have ever felt in my entire life and that love comes from God. The One who sees us through EVERY hurt. I am only human as a mother, and I can’t be everywhere. I can, however, bring my children to the lap of a God who CAN. The greatest gift I could ever give to them is the gift of salvation and the feeling of knowing that someone who loves them is with them EVERY second of EVERY day.

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I used to consider myself a person of controlled emotion. I never showed emotion in front of anyone and was seen as the girl who could handle anything and have a stable reaction. I RARELY got angry or acted out. Although, that may have seemed ideal growing up, I know better now. Humans were not created to be strong. They were created with emotions; each one serving a purpose. We are not capable of holding it all in. We will explode.

Feeling emotions is very healthy! I just love seeing people express emotions. Hugging, crying, smiling, laughing. I am still working on showing these but I sure am learning the value in sharing these with those I love. Even when I’m hurt, I pray that my children never have to wonder how I’m feeling, how I feel towards them, how I feel about strangers or how I feel towards God. ❤