By Kandice Adams
She asked her friends for help bathing her children.
And not just a few friends via private message, but she broadcasted her request on social media, for all to see.
She and I have never met face to face, but I can tell that she has no problem with confidence and admitting her need for help.
God used her seemingly simple request, that day, to speak to my heart, and to humble me.
Most of us women are not like her… including me.
In this moment, I am forced to be objective and agree with the guys when they say that women are a puzzle. We act like we have it all together, outwardly, even if we are crumbling inwardly… especially us mothers.
Every mom can relate to the struggles of motherhood, yet instead of asking for help, we allow ourselves to be buried under the pressures; then we point the finger at each other to take the attention off of our own shortcomings, and offering encouragement is a rarity.
We may not say it aloud, but we think it:
Where is his mother? I can’t believe she let him go outside wearing those clothes.
Can you believe her mother let her get those piercings?
Whether we would like to admit it or not, there is a competition going on. Each of us secretly striving to be the best mom, the best friend, the best anything.
This competition turns us into that girl.
You know, that girl whose envy squelches out the encouragement she should offer.
That girl who is threatened by the successes of others.
Or maybe that girl who is annoyed by the accolades of the accomplishments of others.
It’s difficult to be honest about the uglier parts of myself, like the part that somehow believes that my own talents and contributions, would be devoid of significance if someone else does something as well as I do, or perhaps even better.
This realization has caused me to pause and really consider the depth of my own insecurity. I see, now, that somewhere deep inside, I want to be the one and only who can excellently do this motherhood-crafting-anything-thing because someone better would mean: I am not enough.
Thankfully, it is when my shortcomings intersect with God’s abundance, that true understanding of His grace and my own identity in Christ emerges. It is in these moments of weakness that the Spirit speaks the truth: someone else’s excellence does not minimize my value, insight, or abilities.
God has placed each of us in this very moment in time, to carry out a specific purpose. During the creative process, there was no assembly line of clay in which He produced an abundance of one kind of woman. He made no mistake; you are uniquely made.
It is so important that we stop allowing ourselves to be that girl, and instead, step into the girl He is calling us to be. The girl whose faith in Him be overflowing, who believes not only that He can, but also that He will excellently work through her on any and every platform He has given her.
So let’s be supportive of the talents and gifts of other women (Proverbs 31:26).
So let’s be encouragers (Hebrews 3:13).
So let’s celebrate all wins for the Kingdom of God, not merely our own.
And let’s allow that girl’s excellence to propel us further.
Today, let’s stop and say it aloud. Say the words, “I am His girl. I am talented; I am unique, and no one can take away what God has placed inside of me.” Then take a moment to stop and encourage someone else who may need it today.
Word of the Day:
"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace." 1 Peter 4:10 (ESV)
Father, I want to do the best at what you have called me to do but sometimes I feel threatened by the talents and gifts you have placed in others. In those moments when I get caught up in myself and in my own insecurities, help me to focus on you. Remind me that you have made no mistake, and their excellence does not minimize my existence. In Jesus’ name, amen.
By Katie Gibson
I never understood the appeal of Pinterest... until we signed a contract on a house. Our new abode is a quaint, 1953 ranch with vintage charm that just cries out for farmhouse décor (did somebody say “shabby chic?”).
Since then, I have created “boards” for every room, containing everything from color palettes, to furniture, to decorative items— and everything in between. In my mind’s eye, I can see the finished rooms, warm and inviting, cozy spaces where my little family can settle down and enjoy life together.
But there’s a problem— that’s Point Z, and I’m still at about Point C.
In between Point C and Point Z is signing and closing, planning and gathering, hanging and painting… saving and spending. Yes, that. While I want the finished product (and I want it N-O-W), there is a process in between.
Much is the same with my Christian walk. While I want to look like a “house” straight out of Home & Gardens, most days I recognize that I’m more of a 1980’s split-level. I want to be that patient mom, that dynamic writer, that perfect Christ-follower; but instead, I realize the depth of my sinful nature and the reality of my humanity.
The process is so frustrating.
The process is not always easy or fun.
But the process is the point.
While I’m not jumping up and down cheering for the process (yet); what I’m beginning to see is that in the middle of Point A to Point Z God is working on me, in me, and through me— developing me into a useful vessel, prepared for the future He has in store.
God has a great future in store for us, His followers— even greater than we could imagine. But we cannot despise the process; we cannot sit around wishing God would magically transform us like some Cinderella Fairy Godmother.
Just like in renovating a house, intentional change requires hard work and perseverance… patience and trust.
I love what Paul writes in Philippians 2:13, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
Working in you.
Not an overnight success, but a work in progress.
Friend, I know sometimes it seems like there isn’t any change happening. If you’re like me, I know at times I think, “I should be further than this by now!”
But look back a few pages to the point of your salvation— see how far God has brought you. See how much change that has already taken place! How much more can He accomplish through us if we stay available and obedient?
We need to remember that we are fully equipped for everything the Lord has entrusted to us right here, right now.
Today, don’t waste your time wishing to be something you’re not. Don’t despise the process. Instead, focus on staying moldable, allowing yourself to be shaped beneficially by the challenges and circumstances of life, knowing that, through it all, God is fully equipping you for the glorious future He has planned for you.
Word of the Day:
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:13 (NIV)
Father, thank you that you are always working within me, even when I don’t recognize it. Thank you for the wonderful future you have planned for me. Help me to embrace the process. Help me to stay open and moldable to your work in my life, always, in all ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
By Emily Goss
“Give thanks in all circumstances.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
It’s in there, in black and white, and I almost read right by it.
Surely, God didn’t mean all, as in every situation. I feel certain there must be a clause that let’s me out of this one.
But nope, it’s in there. That three letter word that makes sure there is no gray area: all.
Maybe I’m alone in this, but for me, the big glaring situations aren’t that difficult for me to give thanks--
A giant disappointment;
God clearly shutting a door;
Someone walking out of my life…
I can usually find something in those situations, no matter how small, to be thankful for.
Most often, it is the small, sneaky, day-to-day circumstances that I allow to creep right by me.
Like when my alarm is set and doesn’t go off, and I’m rushing to get out the door when I realize I’ve forgotten to sign my child’s permission slip… then the car doesn’t start.
It’s in situations like these that I’m more likely to mutter frustrations under my breath, rather than thanksgiving.
About a week ago, our family came down with a nasty summer virus. My three-year-old was not her normal sunny self and we knew something was up. She had been unable to eat much other than saltines, and when I handed her a piece of toast, her face lit up and she said, “Thank you Mommy. I’m always thanking.”
I’m always thanking. That statement has been on my heart ever since. What if we led such a lifestyle of gratitude that people said of us “They are always thanking”...
Not just in the big, or just in the small, but all.
As moms, there is so much to be thankful for, even in the everyday monotonous routine that we often face.
Paul says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12
Let me put this in “Momma” terms: I have learned to give thanks, and not believe I am entitled, whether stuffed or “hangry”, whether living on the best day ever or the worst.
Whether you just won an award for being MVP of motherhood, or you just want to crawl back in bed and have a do-over.
Whether the bank account is in the green, or has fallen into the red.
Whether everything is awesome, or everything stinks.
Notice that Paul says, “I have learned to be content.” Contentment and gratitude are learned behaviors. They must be practiced to become a way of life.
If you are waiting to feel grateful or are relying on your circumstances to make you content, then most likely it will not happen. Gratitude and contentment must become a way of life in the big and the small.
If your alarm goes off late… “Lord, I am thankful that I woke up today. Your promises are new every morning.”
When your car won’t start… “Lord, thank you that I even have a car. Most of the world does not have this luxury and I trust you will provide a way to fix it.”
When the bank account is low… “Lord, you are a God of abundance and I am thankful that I get to see your hand of provision.”
When contentment and gratitude becomes a way of living you will find that you truly are always thanking.
Word of the Day:
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Jesus, thank you for making a way for me to have relationship with you. Thank you for the cross. I have so much to be thankful for. Enable me to always be grateful in the big and small of life. Amen.
By Shelley Hendrix
When my firstborn was only 2 years old and some change, she became a big sister. All of a sudden, the nearly undivided attention she was accustomed to had to be shared with a new person in our lives. Most of the time, this was okay with her ...until bedtime. That little, mostly angelic creature would approach me while I was nursing her little sister with the demand to "put that baby down and hold ME!"
We began to get a bit of a routine down and a few months in, I was feeling pretty good about my mothering skills because I had gotten the girls dressed and ready to go; one playing nicely while the other got in a late nap so we could attend a special event together at church. My husband was going to come home quickly to freshen up so we could all get out the door in time to be on time - a luxury for a new mom with a young family.
When I was nearly finished getting myself ready, my 2 and a half year old came to me with what I initially assumed was diaper contents all over her. Greenish-brown yuck ALL. OVER. HER.
That would have been bad enough if that had been what it was - it would have been unpleasant to deal with, but fairly simple to clean up and take care of before Daddy got home and we needed to be ready to jet out the door.
It wasn't poo.
It was paint.
And she wasn't coming to see me with remorse for getting into her father's oil paints. No, she was coming to me with pride to show me her artful masterpiece downstairs.
This child painted walls, carpet, doors, doorframes, and probably the cat!
This presented me with a huge dilemma:
How do I, as a mom, let her know this was absolutely NOT okay, while also not shaming her in the process?
How do I let her know this is a big deal without making it too big of a deal?
She was a smart girl, but she was only 2 and a half!
I honestly don't remember exactly what happened. I do know I was upset, frustrated, and remorseful that I had not kept her closer to me while I was getting ready. I didn't lose my cool and yet I was stern with her to let her know she can't, under any circumstances, play with her Dad's paints. She's always had a tender heart and this little girl got the message loud and clear. While I appreciated her desire to be creative, it was not going to be acceptable to go all Rembrandt all over our home.
She tearfully apologized. I hugged her.
This wasn't the end of the world. It was an inconvenience, but it wasn't such a big deal.
The evidence of her 'creativity' remained until we could tend to it all properly. (We eventually got rid of the carpet with her handprint because there was just no way to get it out.)
I moved on and didn't think much about it.
A couple of weeks later, we were riding down the road, and she had been pretty quiet (which at almost 21 years of age is still uncommon. And, yes, I know she comes by it honestly). Some time went by and her little voice, partly quivering, said, "Mommy, I'm so sorry I got into Daddy's paints."
I was so surprised. I had no idea she had even been thinking about it. She had apologized a few times after it all happened, but I had explained to her that I forgave her and it was all going to be okay. I knew she was really sorry for it and that I loved her just as much after as I loved her before the whole thing happened.
I said, "Amelia, honey, I forgave you for that." I could tell this incident was haunting her. Shame had crept in with its ugly accusations and my little one was not equipped to combat it on her own.
I asked, "Do you know what forgiveness means?"
"It means that I know what you did, and yes it was wrong; but it also means that I'm not going to bring it up again. You are still my Amelia and I'm still glad you're mine. You don't have to be afraid, sweet girl."
How much like a two year old are we at times? Our shame whispers to us that we've never been sorry enough for things we have done...or that bad things happened to us as punishment for ________________ ... or that we should be afraid because eventually the other shoe is going to drop.
Just like I wanted my daughter to understand my forgiveness meant she didn't have to fear that I was going to allow this to come between us, God wants us to know that because we stand forgiven already, nothing we've ever done nor will ever do can stand between us and Him. He loves us! He accepts us just as we are. Our need to repent is not to get Him to want us around again, our repentance is for US because we can't experience His love for us in relationship while we're stubbornly holding onto pride.
Who needs your forgiveness today?
How have you experienced God's forgiveness?
How do you share the gift of forgiveness with your little one(s)?
Word of the Day:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Father, thank you for the gift of forgiveness. Thank you that there is nothing I could ever do to escape your love. Help me to extend the same grace to others. Guide me in sharing this wonderful gift with my children, today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Shelley Hendrix has authored three books, including “Why Can’t We Just Get Along?” which was featured in CALLED Magazine’s Summer 2013 edition as a “Must Read!” She is also the founder of Church 4 Chicks, 2014 Kingdom Awards’ Ministry of the Year honoree, and co-founder of Heart Smart- Counseling, Coaching and Consulting with her husband and BFF, Stephen. Read more from Shelley Hendrix at shelleyhendrix.com
By Kandice Adams
This month has been an emotional rollercoaster.
Last weekend I watched as my oldest son, my “extra child,” walked the stage to receive his college diploma.
Yesterday, I waited as my oldest daughter walked briefly back into my arms after being away nine months; only to leave again soon.
Today, I watched on as my littlest girl received her certificate and graduated from Kindergarten.
It seems that a lot of seasons are ending while others are beginning for me as mom.
Ironically, I find both, the rising and the setting of the sun, are leaving me a bundle of nervous energy. My emotions are raw and edgy. My tears are bubbling just beneath the surface as I remember my babies from yesterday.
They are not babies anymore.
They don’t need my constant watch.
The older ones are seeking new challenges in faraway places.
They are morphing before my eyes while I watch on and desperately try to hold on.
Soon, they won’t be near.
Near enough for me to pick them up when they fall.
Near enough for me to dry tears or celebrate their successes.
I long for the familiar yesterdays-- a time when I had the answers, a time when ice cream would cure every heartache, a time when I was enough.
I bleed inside as I wonder if this is how Christ felt, in view of the cross ahead, when He spoke of leaving His disciples with the promised Holy Spirit (John 14:16). It had to have been difficult, to think about leaving those He had come to love, those that had walked with him, and those that He poured His heart into and taught the love of the Father. He had to have been a bundle of raw emotions as He pondered: My time and purpose as a man on this earth is coming to a painful and agonizing close.
Yet He went on to utter the words, “It is finished” as He fulfilled all righteousness (John 19:30).
In essence, for Christ, one season was ending while another was beginning, and yet I am sure that it was not easy for Him; but because He loved us, He sent the Holy Spirit, who would go on to dwell in each believer, as the comforter, the guide… as everything we need.
And He would be enough.
And He is enough.
But, how often do I give the culmination of my life’s work; the physical expression of my heart’s joy; my children, over to Him?
To the one who will be with them everywhere they go.
To the one who will comfort them through their heartaches.
To the one who will celebrate their successes and love them through their worst days.
To the one who will be everything they need, in every season because He is enough for them.
And while this season is difficult, I know that He is enough for me, too.
Friends, I don’t know what season you are currently in, but rest assured that in Him is everything your children need; and He is enough for you, too.
I don’t know if you have three in the nest and one in the oven or two flying away, but I do know the promised Holy Spirit is everything we need. He is enough to comfort us through any heartache. He is enough to fill any empty spaces; He is enough to take away any anxieties.
He is enough.
Won’t you give Him the physical expression of your heart’s joy, for safekeeping, today?
Word of the Day:
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--
A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (NIV).
Lord, you created the universe and still you know my heart. Thank you for loving me enough to bottle and count every tear. Thank you for knowing every anxiety. While I know that every season has a shared purpose of bringing me closer to you, during this season, I ask that as I watch those you placed in my care begin to walk away toward new adventures, please remind me that you go with them and you are enough for both of us, in Jesus’ name, Amen.