Head pounding and thoughts racing, I would lay on my bed at night rehearsing all of the day's events. Thoughts would flood and haunt my mind with all of the wrong ways I had responded in the day, and tears would stream down my face.
I was caught between who I wanted to be and who I really was. There were so many things I was doing right, but oh so many things I was doing wrong. When talking with friends, I found that they too were haunted by the never ending guilt that haunted me. I will try harder tomorrow, I would reason. I will be patient. I will be kind. I will have grace.
The next day would begin again. Sun shining, kids smiling, and then would come the chaos that exists with having four young children, and once again I would find my responses not in line with who I so badly wanted to be. Patience, kindness, and grace would go out the window, and my hope would go right along with it. I would love to say this was a rare occurrence, but in fact it happened quite often.
In those days, I felt so alone. I knew that other moms struggled too—we talked about it plenty—but I wasn't satisfied to land in that place and neither were they. I could see it on their faces. I would cry to my husband at night, and he would say, "Honey, you are such a good mom." I really believed him, except when I didn’t. I saw the little faces when the milk got spilled one too many times, and my frustration got the better of me. I heard myself say things that didn't bring the life I so wanted to give. I saw the moments slipping by and joy along with them. I needed hope. I needed change. I needed grace.
I didn't need grace to excuse my failures. I needed grace to give me the hope to change. At my core, I believed that God was standing with His arms folded shaking His head in disgust when I would slip up. I believed God's view of me was dependent on my performance. I think many of us truly believe that. I knew in my mind that was wrong thinking, but we can always see what we really believe by looking at our lives and how we are actually functioning. It was evident that this was who I believed Him to be in the way I responded to my own failure. I mirrored who I truly believed God to be to my children. I responded to their failure the same way I believed God responded to mine. If you aren't living in grace, you can't give grace. You just can't. We live out of the abundance of what He's given us, and if we don't know what we have, we can't give it away (I John 4:19).
It is true that God wants us to respond with patience, kindness, and grace, but that is because that is what brings freedom and the truth is—that is what we want too. God is for freedom both for us and our families (Galatians 5:1). Some would say that His grace just covers our sinful responses as if it only cancels it out, but His grace is so much bigger and better than that (Galatians 5:13).
He can CHANGE our sinful responses (Galatians 5:16-18). His grace is our path to wholeness and freedom. It is the way we can live the way He actually intended us to live. His arms opened wide on the cross, and that is where we can run when our failures loom large (Galatians 1:4). This God who knows every broken and sinful place in us has a remedy. He is the restoring God who knows how to bring wholeness to the very broken places in our lives. Our wrong responses show places that need His hand. If our response is to hide in shame, we do not understand His love or His grace. Grace doesn't just cover us, it changes us. Knowing His heart for us makes the difference between freedom and bondage, joy and sadness, hope and despair.
Sweet mom, when you are laying on your pillow at night and the thoughts come flooding in, do not allow the thoughts of shame and despair consume you. Those are not thoughts from the One who loves you. Those are thoughts from your own mind or from the one who wants to destroy your soul. When the thoughts come—and they will, my friend—ask the One who knows your heart to come near. Ask Him for His thoughts. Ask Him for His forgiveness. Ask Him for His grace. You are not a slave, but a daughter (Galatians 4:6-7).
Word of the Day:
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20, NLT)
Father, thank You that You see all of me. There is not a part of me or a part of my day that is hidden from You. Please forgive me for the responses that I have and help me to see Your heart for me. I know that You are kind and good, but sometimes it is hard for me to really believe that. Please do what you need to do in me to make me see You more clearly. I want what You want for my life. I choose You over my shame and guilt. I choose to trust You and who You say You are.
Author: Wendy Gerdes
Some days I enjoy the short-lived illusion of reigning supreme over my little slice of life.
But in general, as an Army wife, I’ve come to the conclusion that most things are way beyond my control.
The Army dictates when and where we move, what my husband’s job will be, if he will get to keep it, and if he will be selected for the next promotion. The mission determines when we will be authorized to take a family vacation and when his life may be put in danger with another deployment.
Truth is that most of us, Army or otherwise, have very little real authority in our own lives. We face situations each day that leave us feeling helpless.
Other people choose to say and do things that are hurtful.
Children throw temper tantrums at the most inopportune times.
Cutbacks and a poor economy cost people jobs and pensions.
Fires and storms destroy homes.
Accidents cause delays and take lives.
Illnesses plague loved ones.
Infertility and miscarriage leave longing arms empty.
No matter how out of my control things may seem, I know that nothing is out of God’s control.
Every detail of my life, no matter how great or small, falls under His dominion.
Our circumstances are tools that God uses to shape and mold us into His image. When faced with trials and the chastening of The Lord it may feel painful at the time, but it produces the fruit of righteousness if we will allow ourselves to be trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).
He has given us free will in responding to our circumstances. Our reactions and responses are choices within our control. His hope is that we will choose rightly.
Anger or grace when provoked?
Fear or faith for His provision when our income doesn’t match our desires?
Disappointment or hope of eternal resurrection when faced with death?
Turn my back on Him or lean into His love for me?
Worry about my situation or expect His peace to fill me as I pray and give thanks?
Unfortunately, when I allow my emotions to determine my reactions to life situations, I usually end up feeling even more out of control. All too frequently, I choose poorly. My flesh is prone to anger, selfishness, doubt, insecurity, and worry.
So, the only way to choose rightly is to relinquish all vestiges of control over my responses to the power and authority of the Holy Spirit who lives and longs to reign in me.
We know that as believers in Christ, we have been set free from the sway of sin (Romans 6:7) and not even death has dominion over us (Romans 6:9). Because of our faith, God has given us His Spirit to live inside us (Romans 8:11). That Spirit frees us when we willingly submit ourselves to it (Galatians 5:18).
The Spirit steers me toward grace, mercy, generosity, faith, peace, and love.
The more authority we give the Holy Spirit over our flesh, the more in control of our responses we feel.
Instead of trying to regulate all the details of our lives, in Paul’s first letter to Peter, he exhorts us to pass all our cares off on to God, to submit to His authority, and live confidently because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:6-7).
Because we know God loves us, we will live courageously at peace, well-pleased that He is in control and we are not.
Word of the Day: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7
Dear Heavenly Father,
Forgive me for all the times when I have wanted to be in control. Thank You no matter how far out of my control this life may become, You are always ready to guide me toward hope and prosperity. May I live according to your divine plan and always glorify you in my responses to my circumstances. Amen.
Not too long ago, I allowed a dear friend to talk me into taking an aerobics course. I had always heard that exercising with a friend increased the chances of you sticking with it. That, coupled with my desire to increase my movement, made me think it was a good idea… only to discover that it wasn’t going to be a typical aerobics course-- it was step aerobics.
I am going to begin by saying that I am not the most coordinated person in the world and providing me with a step would surely increase my opportunity to hurt myself or someone else.
The first day, our instructor started with the basics:
Left foot up,
Right foot up,
Left foot down to the right,
Right foot down to the right,
This would probably not be a big deal to most people, but I could not get the rhythm.
When the instructor went up, I was down. When she was down, I was up. It seemed that I was always a second behind her, no matter what.
There I was, uncoordinated, throwing off everyone else’s rhythm and falling off the step a time or two… or three.
But then something began to happen. I slowly got better with time.
With practice and repetition, my rhythm improved.
I find that my rhythm with God can feel the same way when I am out of step, when I am not digging into His word or spending time in His presence-- when I am operating outside of the spirit.
I can feel it happening. I become irritable and short tempered, and my joy isn’t exactly bubbling over either.
But it it doesn't happen suddenly, does it?
For me, it begins with the little compromises. It begins with neglecting to spend time with Christ one morning, then two, and ultimately, because of a full schedule, a full week goes by without my spending time with Christ.
Maybe it is different for you; maybe it is using slightly crude language or chattering about a co-worker. Whatever it is, it starts small, until we are just slightly out of sync-- one second behind the Spirit of God, throwing off the whole rhythm of the relationship. And not only your rhythm, but the others’ close to you as well.
As moms we need to be intentional about “keeping step” with the Spirit.
We need to be diligent about “practicing” in His presence- that is spending time with Him, knowing Him, and syncing our lives with His will.
With full lives and full calendars it can be hard to make time for this spiritual “exercise”. But today, in between the requests for sippy cup refills or teenage chatter, find a few moments where you can spend some time practicing your steps. Getting in sync with the Spirit through song, Word or prayer.
Slowly, over time and with repetition, your steps will become more and more in sync with His. You will find yourself falling less and enjoying the rhythms of His presence like never before.
Word of the Day:
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25 (NIV)
Father, you know my intentions but I don’t always follow through how I should. In those moments when you feel me out of sync with your Spirit, please remind me to check my rhythm. Cause me to remember your glory, your grace and the perfect peace that can only be found in you, in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Author: Kandice Adams
Often, I am astonished at the 2000 plus Facebook friends I have. I wish I could credit this to my charming personality, but my crazy array of friends from far away as Bangladesh are all because of a 14 year old young boy and his AMAZING story.
My second son, Joshua, was diagnosed with severe autism at 2.5 years old. He is a living breathing miracle, and the sole reason I will never doubt the power of a good prayer. His diagnosis was a stinging verdict in a cold medical office as Josh rolled around silently on the floor.
Afterwards, A small piece of paper slid into my hand. On the paper was a referral to a psychiatrist for me because, supposedly, the road ahead would inevitably cause me to, “lose my mind,” the neurologist admitted in not so many words.
I left the office shell-shocked.
I knew the symphony of issues my little toddler had were serious.
I will never forget that day. I remember driving home, tears streaming down my face as I prayed.
In that moment I heard a still small voice say, “Celebrate small victories.”
Josh was a runner, a silent runner, who could not answer to his own name. I had 110dcb alarms on all my doors, and while he couldn't utter a word, he could amazingly evade every lock and alarm in the house.
Just taking a shower was an Olympic event. He also felt no pain, and therefore, had to be constantly watched.
He nearly drowned during a park outing, and once was even brought home after a ride in a police car, lost and unable to identify himself.
Eventually, in my desperation, I found a community of doctors, nutritionists and parents optimistically looking for answers. Year after year, an amazing thing happened: God began to heal my son.
It wasn't an overnight miracle, it was step upon step and victory upon victory.
So many times when I came to the end of myself, God was there.
We began to see Josh heal, each new treatment or supplement we prayed about working, never having to resort to scary drugs.
We watched as he slowly regenerated back into a happy boy. One day, I felt Josh's hand in mine, and I looked down as he said, “Hey Mom! I can talk to you now!”
But it didn't end there. One day, as his sister was being baptized he asked, “Mom what's baptism?” As I explained he then tore off his shirt and ran to the lake so that he could, too, be baptized.
Since then, Josh has found his niche… acting. Yeah, I know that's how God works, the silent kid is the one that ends up performing Shakespeare.
God, our tender Father, knows our sorrow when life doesn't exactly turn out perfect, and He is there.
He comforted me as I cried buckets of tears, as the mom of a special needs child.
Dear friend, if you are challenged with a struggling child, be encouraged today-- believe in miracles.
Sometimes when our children are saddled with a diagnosis, that peak seems too high to summit. But be assured- nothing is too big for God to tackle. The same God that poured out his love on the cross is big enough to handle your mountain.
Each one of us has a cross to bear, so pray with me today, and give that cross over to the one with experience at carrying it. His burden is light. He will see you through.
Word of the Day:
You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. Psalm 77:14
Father, carry me today. Sometimes my situation seems bigger than I can handle. In the darkest of nights when I wonder if I can make it through with my child, help me to remember that you love my children even more than I do. Help me to lean on and trust in you, even when I can't see the end of this thing. I know you are with me now just help me in my weakness to feel strong. Let my children see me trusting in you to guide us. Help me to believe and hope in the good that is to come. When your hand is in things, miracles happen.
Author: Karen Beauvais
It’s funny how you can read a scripture and get “stuck” on it.
Like when you feel as if God must’ve written this one just for you and it’s on repeat like a broken record in your mind. This happened to me when I read Psalm 37:24: “Though they may stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”
Really simple. But the phrase, “though they may stumble” is one I can’t quite shake.
When I first set out to write this blog, I was focusing on the perspective of moms stumbling. How trying and tiring and (quite honestly) bleak some days look. How often I feel (as I’m sure you do) that you must be falling. How one day after another we stumble and God is oh so gracious to hold us up.
I was lying with my big girl one night recently to help her fall asleep and I felt God whisper. “Though she may stumble”. No Lord, I pleaded. I want her to stay little forever and never have to be exposed to the harshness of the world. To watch her stumble would be such a helpless feeling. It has to be the absolute worst to watch someone we love dearly stumble. We live in a fallen world and the result of that is that ALL of us will stumble.
The wayward son whom you’ve prayed for years, the daughter who is believing what the guys at school say to her over truth, the addicted family member in and out of rehab, the husband who can’t stand up under the pressures of family and work, the toddler who (literally) stumbles everywhere.
Here is the good news: Jesus took the fall so we wouldn’t have to. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”(Isaiah 53:5)
One translation of Psalm 37:24 states “Even if he trips, he will not fall headlong, for the Lord holds his hand” I love the visual this gives us. I envision a mom holding her wobbly toddler’s hand as he tries to shakily walk along. And while he most likely will trip, she will not let him fall on his face. See, when he starts to fall, she will grip him by the hand even more tightly and keep him upright.
I think God is saying to you, dear friend: that person you love, the one who is stumbling and you feel helpless… don’t lose heart. If they are in Christ, they will not fall headlong. The Almighty One has them by the hand. And though they may stumble, the Lord will uphold them. He is trustworthy and good. We can rest in knowing that it is not our job to keep them from falling.
Our responsibility is to pray and leave the rest in God’s hands. And truly, those are the best hands to be in.
Word of the Day:
“Even if he trips, he will not fall headlong, for the Lord holds his hand” Psalm 37:24
Jesus, You say in your word that though we may stumble, we will not fall if we are your children. Many days it feels as if we are falling, but we claim this promise in your name. You will not let us fall on our face. You are the one who upholds us and we are so grateful. Give us grace for today and the wisdom to see loved ones, not as stumbling, but as being held up by your mighty hand. Amen.
Author: Emily Goss