Author: Abby McDonald (abby-mcdonald.com)
As soon as he sat down in the car, I knew something was wrong.
His face was downcast and his step had lost its usual after-school skip. I thought maybe he’d gotten a red mark at school, an indication he’d played class clown one too many times.
I wasn’t expecting what came in the following minutes.
“How was your day?”
“Fine,” he said without further comment.
I wanted to push further but restrained myself. I tried to calm my three-year-old’s incessant repetition of “Mama.” Then, as I was turning down the road back toward our house, it started.
“Actually, Sam made me mad.”
He corrected himself.
“Well, Sam made me sad.”
Tears fell and he covered his face. I was glad I was driving with him in the back seat so when he looked up, he couldn’t see my expression.
I took a deep breath and asked probing questions. I learned Sam had told my son they were no longer friends.
My mind flashed like a negative reel to a time many years ago when I’d heard those same words. I told my son I was sure this boy didn’t mean it and silently prayed. I asked why his classmate would say this.
I fought my lioness urge to track down the school bus, find this kid, and demand an explanation.
Later, after my son calmed and we talked more about the situation, my wise husband reminded me that at the tender young age of six, everything is in absolutes.
That will never happen. We never do anything fun. You’re not my friend anymore.
The next day when my son stepped off the bus in a chipper mood, I realized my spouse was right. I was relieved, but wondered what would happen if the situation had turned out differently.
My mind went outside of God’s grace into the unknown, and questioned the tiny details of my son’s life.
What if this sort of thing continued? What if he isn’t making the right friends? Would his tender heart later lead to heartbreak?
The further I went down the trail of circumstances I couldn’t control, the more restless and anxious I became.
Several days later, I sat outside soaking sunlight when God hit me with the truth of these words:
Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6 NIV
How often to I say I believe God with my mouth and my words but my attitude says otherwise?
He says he knows the plans he has for my children, and they are plans for good. He says not a sparrow falls to the ground without his care.
Abram’s story goes on to show he not only said he believed God, but was obedient and acted on this faith. You see, friends, James cuts straight to the heart of the matter when he says, “Faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:25 NIV
Faith moves us forward in obedience. Worry keeps us in a holding pattern of regret.
Faith means doing what I can to raise boys who love, forgive, and give grace, and then trusting God to do what only he can.
I trust him to protect them and watch over them. To guide their steps when they’re out of my watchful care.
It means relinquishing control to the one who is in control, and believing he’s more than capable of taking the wheel.
So today, when my mind becomes restless with worry, I’m going to surrender those thoughts to him and actually do something. I’m going to pray.
I’m going to fill the endless wheel of anxious thoughts with a list of his promises. I’m going to trade relentless worry with unwavering faith.
Father, thank you that you hold my life, and my children’s lives in your hands. Thank you that you are trust-worthy and faithful. Help me to release all of my worries, and simply rest in your loving arms. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
The world can be a hard-hitting place, especially when it wields its yardsticks.
Our world system is always judging, comparing, and measuring. All this can erode our sense of worth. Sisters, we can’t fully escape the yardsticks of this world, nor can our children. And, sitting on the sidelines of life is not a God honoring option.
It’s important to know for ourselves and to teach our children where to anchor our identities, to know to Whom we belong, and to acknowledge the source of our gifts and talents. Otherwise, all of it, whether we are on the winning or losing side of the yardstick, has the potential to destroy us.
Growing up, I idolized Chris Evert. I thought she had it all:beauty, athletic prowess, grand slam tennis titles, money, and fame. Scott Sauls in his book, Jesus Outside the Lines, shared an excerpt of an interview done with Good Housekeeping about the inner struggle of her heart at the time of her retirement:
I had no idea who I was, or what I could be away from tennis. I was depressed and afraid because so much of my life had been defined by my being a tennis champion. I was completely lost. Winning made me feel like I was somebody. It made me feel pretty. It was like being hooked on a drug. I needed wins, the applause, in order to have an identity. (Chris Evert)
Even the winning side of the yardstick has its perils—pitfalls.
Sometimes, it’s not the world that wields the yardstick. We can use its deadly measurements on ourselves. Kelly Osbourne, daughter of legendary rock-and-roll star Ozzy Osbourne, is another heartbreaking example referenced in Saul’s book. After a lengthy hiatus from the public eye, Kelly re-emerged 42 pounds lighter with curves and confidence. Responding about her weight loss, Kelly replied, “I took more hell from being fat than I did for being a raging drug addict. …I’m really proud to look in the mirror and not hate every single thing I see. I no longer think, why don’t you look like this girl or that girl?”
This breaks my heart. I believe it breaks the heart of God too.
Sisters, in some way we can all see ourselves in these stories. Our issues may be distinctly different, but we are all aware of our own insecurities and broken places; when we apply the yardstick of perfection, worth, and comparison we are damaging our self worth.
We, as moms, desire to model healthy self esteem. One, that finds its value and worth rooted in Christ. Secure moms are more apt to raise secure kids. Sisters, we can only authentically impart what we truly know.
Recently, God brought an image to my sanctified imagination. I sensed it was an invitation for healing. I was a little girl and Jesus was standing next to me like a big brother; He kept handing me yardsticks to break in half. As I broke each one, we would robustly laugh,releasing both self-imposed and man-made measurements that no longer quantify the value of my life, my heart, my soul…
Sisters, I invite you to break your yardsticks for yourself and for the sake of your children.
Word of the Day:
….For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (1Samuel 16:7)
Father, thank you for Your unconditional love; it’s what defines us. Help us to turn to You when we want to apply the world’s yardsticks. Break them for our freedom and for that of our children. Amen.
Author: Maryanne Abbate
If any Bible character exemplifies our lesson this week, it is King David.
God said David was a man after His own heart. But David was far from perfect.
He made some of the worst mistakes you can imagine, including adultery and murder.
He faced some tough opposition to the plan God had for his life. He was hunted by his predecessor, Saul. Many years passed between his anointing and when he actually assumed power in Israel. He lost the son produced by the adulterous affair with Bathsheba.
But David persevered in God’s work. He never gave up. He recognized God’s hand in all his circumstances. He stepped forward in faith, even when facing his giants, trusting God with the results. He didn’t pretend to be perfect. He glorified God in all he did. He stood firm on the promise God placed on his life. He sought God’s direction in making decisions, and when he didn’t, he repented of his sins. When he grew weary, he remembered what God had promised his as a legacy.
This kind of enduring character is what Paul tells the Romans produces hope.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope.
Paul goes on to remind them (and us) the reason we have that hope. He gives us the “why” we need to endure all our failures and hardships. The “why” that provides us with the encouragement to keep pressing on.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
Christ didn’t die for perfect people. He died because He knew that was a standard we could never achieve. We don’t have to be perfect because He was. And when He comes again, we will finally be, too.
That is the ultimate inspiration for pursuing progress toward any goal that seems unattainable in this lifetime. Whatever the task at hand, that is our “why.”
We pursue progress in this life because He has guaranteed us perfection in the next.
Author: Liz Giertz
I recently watched a movie about the life of Gabby Douglas who is a world class gymnast.
In the 2012 Olympics, she captured the attention of the world and became the first African American to win the women’s gymnastics individual all-around.
But she walked away from the sport just a few months before this historic performance. She got hurt and things got hard. She made multiple mistakes in competition and struggled to recover. So she quit.
She walked away from her God-given skill and the dream He placed in her heart.
I have been there:
when my mistakes seemed to outweigh any progress I was making’
when the fight ahead seemed more than I could bear’
hen the reasons that got me started faded in the rear view mirror’
when the sight of a blinking cursor on a blank page made me want to slam my laptop shut and push back from the desk’
when I wonder why I’m working so hard.
When Gabrielle’s family and coaches and friends reminded her about the beginning of her journey, she was inspired her to return to the training facility and keep fighting. The rest is history.
When I get discouraged by my failures or the never-ending tasks ahead of me, I find strength in my “why.” Why did I marry this man all those years ago? Why did I want to be a mother even before conceiving my first child? Why did I first begin to write? Why did I volunteer for this role?
When messing up makes you want to quit, remember why you started.
When my “why” goes back to glorifying God, I’m able to keep going. To endure. To persevere.
Whatever stands in your way of reaching your dreams today, give it to God. He is the one who set this opportunity in front of you and prepared you specifically for it. So, cast your burdens on Him. Consider “why” you started this journey in the first place. Determine to glorify Him even in the setbacks, challenges, and failures not just the victories.
Share your “why” with one or two close friends who will remind you of it when the going gets tough.
Read more about Gabby Dawson here: Why Gabby Douglas Thanks God Even When She Falls (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/december-web-only/why-gabby-douglas-thanks-god-even-when-she-falls.html)
Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
Author: Liz Giertz
A few weeks ago I started using a chart to keep track of my kids’ responsibilities around the house.
It has columns for the days of the week and rows for each of the tasks I’ve assigned them. I created, printed, laminated, and hung the spreadsheets on the refrigerator. When they have completed the task, they check it off with a dry erase marker.
I’m no psychologist, but it seems to me seeing their progress inspires them to keep working toward their goals.
Tracking our progress can be helpful. I know I love to cross items off my to-do list.
But we can’t let it become obsessive.
I made this mistake recently tracking some statistics with my writing. I had become so focused on monitoring the growth of my community, I was neglecting those already a part of it. Instead of creating new quality content or honing my craft, I was checking the stats.
Tracking my progress was impeding my productivity.
There is probably an app to track for any kind of progress we would ever pursue. Calories burned or consumed. Weight lost or lifted. Blog visitors, views, and shares. Grade point averages and Bible verses read. Money spent and saved.
But when I’m consumed by the progress, I often lose sight of what’s right in front of me. We have to work and wait. We have to make one good decision at a time. We have to seek God in every situation. We have to let His Spirit guide our every decision.
Choose to challenge our muscles.
Select food as fuel for our bodies.
Write for the One.
Study the lesson.
Open the Bible.
Analyze every purchase.
When we diligently seek His heart, we can trust He will take care of the progress according to His purpose.
Seek God with all your heart (1 Chronicles 28:9) in every circumstance and then trust Him to work it out for His glory and according to His good purpose (Romans 8:28).
Author: Liz Giertz