Monday, March 27, 2017

The Questionnaire at the Eye Doctor

Last week, I had the privilege of going to the eye doctor alone. Those with small children will understand why I call this a privilege. Going anywhere alone is like a vacation, no matter how short-lived.

And plus, the eye doctor is one of the better appointments you could have. No uncomfortable situations like visiting the lady doctor. No pain or annoyances like holding your mouth wide open at the dentist. At the eye doctor, you pretty much just have to look.

My paradise did not last long. This was my first appointment in ten years, so I had to fill out their handy-dandy new patient questionnaire.


The top portion of the paper was quite typical. It asked for emergency contact, medical doctor, date of birth, etc. The basics.

But in the middle of the paper it all went downhill.

The paper was asking me to check the boxes for all of my interests and hobbies. I thought, "Oh great! I'm interesting and fun. This should be no problem!"


The list that I could choose from included a variety of sports that I had never played, video games, and other activities that I have not done for a good ten years.

I ended up checking the following: Cooking. Gardening. Reading. Snow Skiing. (I haven't skied since I've had kids, but I had to give myself one!)

I looked at my checks and thought that I easily could have been confused with an 80 year old woman! All that was missing was needle point! (No offense, anyone.)

I sat there in the waiting area with a cloud around me. To make matters worse, I had to answer the good old question: What is your occupation and employer? 

I never know really what to put there as a stay-at-home-mom. That phrase seems too long for the little box they give on the paper. So I went with the classic, Homemaker.

I hate that word. It sounds so dowdy and, well, OLD. Welcome back, 1955!

The rest of my appointment went just fine, but the joy of my freedom was dampened. 

I got to thinking later that I might as well have put a target on my back. In fact, I pretty much did! My word of the year is Content. I have told the entire world wide web and a radio audience that Content is my word of focus for 2017. Of course Satan is going to do whatever he can to make me feel not content. He used my feelings about my occupation and my activity level to dash my spirits. 

He had me questioning whether or not I could really be content as a stay-at-home-mom. And to be honest, its not the first time. I'm an easy target in this area. 

No matter our profession or lack there of, we will always struggle with being content. I know that. I could be living out my professional dreams but there could still be more I would want. Bigger house, better furniture, nicer car. It could go on and on. 

The secret to being content is to get our eyes off of our circumstances and focus on God. Real contentment is found in relationship with Him. In Him, we have all we need.

Here are a couple of verses I found that helped me refocus.
"Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can't take anything with us when we leave it" (1 Timothy 6:6-7), emphasis added. 

    •  The part that I emphasized there tells me that being content is not easy, for great wealth usually does not come easily. It takes a lot of work. I also notice that being content is to be like God. Great goal to strive after!

"Don't love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, 'I will never leave you. I will never abandon you" (Hebrews 13:5), emphasis added. 

    • God is all we will ever truly need, and He's not going anywhere! Amen! 
**Disclaimer: I love being a stay-at-home-mom and would not trade it for a paying job. I know I will not regret being at home with my kids. However, no job is easy and without trials. God alone can give us contentment in the midst of trials, hard times, and the "Blah" times!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Blog for This Day of the Woman

I used to consider myself a feminist.

I am educated. I am smart. I am capable. So by golly, I deserve equal opportunities. I deserve equal treatment. I deserve equal pay. Give me what I deserve!

There is nothing wrong with being a feminist. We all have different opinions and background and are all shaped by a variety of circumstances.

But because I am a follower of Jesus, I have some different standards. My thoughts and feelings are continually being refined to make me more like my Savior. And thank God for that!

First thing's first: this world will never be a place of equality for all. That would mean that the world would be a perfect place. The state of perfection went out a long time ago in a garden far, far away. Sorry to say that, but its true. Jesus even told us, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows" (John 16:33). Perfection will only be achieved when Jesus returns and God's people are at last restored to the way God meant it to be all along. Until then, ALL people will struggle. Some people many be mistreated because of size, gender, race, etc. This is because people are imperfect and will be imperfect until that day finally comes.

Secondly, and most importantly, to the Women! We will never be fully satisfied if we are chasing after the world's idea of what it means to be a woman. The world tells us that we should not be happy to stay at home and raise our kids. The world tells us that if we work, we are neglecting our kids. The world tells us we need to buy more clothes, bags, makeup, shoes, etc. in order to feel more beautiful, to feel more important. These are all lies. Too many women today are mislead by them.

Ladies, the only thing worth chasing after is God. He alone can give you the purpose that will truly satisfy your soul. He alone can love you perfectly, just as you are. He alone will treat you with equality. No matter what.

These ideas are very counter-cultural. It is hard to stand apart from society. It is hard to live differently and not participate in ways that other women may deem "worthy of the cause." But that is what God calls us women (and men) to do.
"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect" (Romans 12:2).
The key to being able to stand apart from society? Allowing God to change the way you think. Because not only are these ideas counter-cultural; they are also counter-intuitive.

As human beings, we are programmed to take care of self. We naturally seek to advance ourselves any way we can. It is only by allowing God to change the way we think that we can see His will for our lives--that good, pleasing, and PERFECT will.

This is why being a woman after God's heart is so hard. God calls women and mothers to be self-sacrificing while our insides scream, "What's in this for me? When will I get some kind of recognition for all of this work?"

You probably won't. This world does not always honor those who quietly and humbly serve. But Jesus, the King of the World, came and served in that very same way. He is our model. In John chapter 13, He washed the feet of his disciples. This was a job reserved for the lowliest slave in that day. But Jesus did it to demonstrate His great love. He served in the most humble of ways to be our example.
"I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them" (John 13:15-17).
Let me just be the first to say that this idea of "humble serving" is something I struggle with every day. Like I said before, I used to be a feminist. I used to feel entitled to recognition and accolades. It is hard to quiet that down within yourself. I am a work in progress!

It is good to be driven, and it is good to want to help others who are struggling. But everything we do and everything we stand for should be for the main goal. We should be pointing people to Jesus. Jesus showed His love and He served so people would believe in Him and in the God who sent Him. He is the only way to be saved from the imperfection of this world.

If we are not doing that, our actions are futile. "Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

This blog has helped me evaluate that for which I am striving. I had a bad week a couple of weeks ago, complete with a couple of pity parties. I was seeking those accolades. I was wishing for recognition. I was striving for what the world said I should be pursuing. It was time for a heart check.

To All Women and myself: allow God to give you purpose. Allow Him to love you. Seek Him first.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Black Jeans Aren't for Mamas

I am one of those women who enjoy dressing up. I like putting on my cute outfits those times that I actually get to go out of the house. I know some of you can relate, and some of you just want to stay in yoga pants all the time. Either way, stay with me here.

It was one such special occasion that I decided to wear my black skinny jeans. I was feeling pretty cute this day, pretty put together. I was taking my two youngest kids to Bible study, so I was looking forward to a little me time, too.

Well, it is winter in Minnesota. For those of you who don't know, that basically means your car is dirty for 5 months. They keep the roads treated up here in case it snows, which it often does. Also, I live in the country and have family and friends in the country, so I travel gravel roads a lot. Needless to say, our Traverse was transformed from its lovely shade of navy blue to a gross shade of grungy grey. 

Since I'm kind of a magnet for dirt, I of course find that I have rubbed my black jeans up against the dirtiness of my car while getting my baby out of his carseat. Great. I had to go to Bible study with a grey smear on my thigh.

Then at lunch, my daughter dropped white cheddar mac and cheese on my leg. Combine that with the results of my drooling baby, and you can imagine what I looked like. I was no longer the picture of a put-together mom. Not at all.

Nope. Black jeans are not for mamas.

But when we get discouraged or feel a little pitiful, God's word is there for us. When we try to have it all together and fail, God can help put us back together.

A verse that I have always loved is Ephesians 2:10. But this time, I backed up a couple of verses and found some more good stuff.
"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago" (Ephesians 2:8-10).
See what I mean? There is such good stuff here for us! 

First, God saved us. We did nothing but accept His grace. The fact that He saved us through Jesus is the greatest gift of all. We can't earn it. We can't repay it. We can just believe and be thankful. I don't know about you, but I'm glad that God does not require a list of things that we need to do in order to be saved. He does not want to burden us. He wants to give us mercy and grace. Thank you, Jesus!

Second, the fact that I don't have to do anything to earn salvation is so freeing! We do so much as moms and wives. Jesus came to give us freedom. Freedom from perfection and striving! What a relief for this mom with a busy to-do list!

And then there's verse 10. We don't have to have it put together. We are God's masterpiece no matter what we look like, or no matter what we have on our jeans. So unlike my black jeans, Weare made new and washed clean by Jesus. And, in spite of our mess, He wants to use us in His plans. What a trade off! I give Him my mess of a life, and He gives me "good things" to do for His purpose. 

Black jeans may not be for mamas, but God is all about us. He's all about you! 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Never Underestimate a Mother's Reach

As a stay at home mom, sometimes I feel like my world is small.

I know I'm having a direct influence on the three little ones in my flock, but who else do I affect?

The four walls of my house seem to cut me off from the world, which sometimes feels like I am cut off from affecting God's kingdom in a big way. 

I don't think I'm alone in this struggle. Many women feel called to be moms, but also feel called to live a life for God. I do truly believe that being a mom is serving God. It is a huge job and probably the most important one I'll ever do. I just wonder: is there more?

But here's my point: being a mom is so important and valuable. You and I will never know the extent of our reach as a mom. 

Are you familiar with the story of Jesus feeding the 5000? If you grew up in church at all, I'm sure you are. Here's a refresher if you have forgotten!

Thousands of people followed Jesus across the Sea of Galilee and up a hill. The number 5000 represents the men there. There were extra women and children. They were all eager to hear Jesus teach. They were hungry. In more ways than one!

As lunchtime approached, Jesus asked the disciples to feed the people. The disciples had no idea what to do. There were tons of people, and they knew they did not have the money to feed all of them. But, some of the disciples searched the crowd for some options.

Andrew found a young boy who had a small lunch. His lunch contained five barley loaves and two fish. Andrew wondered how this would feed the whole crowd.

We know the story now. Here comes the miracle. "Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he  did the same with the fish" (John 6: 11). Everyone ate until they were full! The baskets had enough for all of the people!

It's an awesome miracle, to be sure, and it is the source of many valuable lessons. The part that I want to focus on is the little boy and his lunch.

Who packs the lunches at your house? The mamas! It is usually the moms' responsibility to make sure their kids are prepared for the day. If they are going to be out of the house, travelling here and there, the mom packs some snacks! 

Think of this mom's reach! She carried out her normal, maybe even daily task of packing a lunch for her son. It wasn't much. It was just bread and fish. But look what happened!

Jesus took her offering and used it to do something amazing! She was just doing her job, but God multiplied and greatly expanded her reach.

Mamas, we never can know how far our reach is. Some days, at least to me anyway, it seems like I'm only influencing my children. And let's be real, some days I wonder if they are even listening! Are their brains even absorbing anything I am trying to teach them!?

But the Bible teaches that, "whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). When we offer even our mundane tasks up to Him, there is no telling what He will do with them. 

Hang in there, Mamas! Let God expand your reach!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Mom's Word for the New Year

I have been challenged by one of my MOPS mentor moms to choose a verse and a word for the year. You know, just a verse and a word to focus on, to set the tone throughout the year. I know lots of people do this, but I have never really gotten serious about it. This idea has been like a typical New Year's resolution for me in the past. I remember it for a week or two, but it fails to stick. 

This year, I'm going to get serious about it. Blogging it will help keep me accountable, right? 

The verses I feel led to choose are verses that I have been marinating in for the past few months, actually. Through the wonderful experience of Bible Study Fellowship, (have I said that before?) I was introduced to these verses in a new way. Really, I don't think I had ever noticed them before. But a friend and fellow mom from my discussion group shared them with us, and I knew they were for me.

Without further ado, here are my verses for the year!
"Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly--not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don't lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by you own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor" (1 Peter 5: 2-4).
Now, if that isn't a word of encouragement and conviction all rolled into one, I don't know what is! It speaks to me so perfectly in my current stage of life. 

I have been given a flock. It includes my husband and three children. I am blessed, and I know it! I am to take care of them WILLINGLY! I shouldn't expect anything in return. I should just do it because those people are who God gave to me, so taking care of them is serving Him. Even if you don't have a husband or kids, you have a flock too! Who are you in charge of on this earth?

I am giggling right now at the part that says, "Don't lord it over the people assigned to your care." Have you ever said, "Because I'm the mom!" or "Because I said so!"? I know there is a time and a place, but that verse is a good check for me! 

Conviction: "lead by your own good example." I'm still working on that part...

Encouragement: When Jesus returns, I will "receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor." Awesome!

So, as my MOPS mentor mom suggested, I'm going to write this down and post it in several locations in my house. I'm not going to let these thoughts slip away this year.

Out of those words, and from some thoughts on life in general, I have decided on a word for the year as well. I'm copying one of my friend's words, actually. I'm not sure all of her meaning behind it, but it totally fits for me too. It's just a good one for moms!


I struggle to be content on many levels. I look at my life now and instead of enjoying it one day at a time, I think, "I wonder what is next? What will I do when my kids are all in school?" I also try to take on too much because I like doing things, and I've done them in the past. But let's face it, right now I have to be okay with making my family the priority and cutting out things that don't work for us. 

I'm also a list maker. And whether it's on paper or in my head, I like to cross one thing off and move to the next. While it's a good way to get things done, it's not always a good way to live. We no sooner finish one house project, and I'm ready to begin the next, for example. A lot of times, I do not allow myself time to enjoy things as they are and rest. 

Confession time: I like to shop. This year, it is my goal to really evaluate my purchases before I purchase them. I want to buy less stuff. I'm already overwhelmed with stuff!

So I'm going to be like Paul. My prayer for this year is to learn, like he did, how to "be content with whatever I have" (Philippians 4:11). He had a secret. He knew to draw from Christ's power for strength at all times and in all situations. In Philippians 4:13 he said, "I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."

Moms, wives, whoever, I would also encourage you to find a scripture and/or a word to cling to for this year. Let God direct you to it. Then let Him use it in your life this year. I'm really excited to do this! I can't wait to see how God will use it in my life this year! 

Feel free to share with me your verse and your word. Let's encourage each other!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Christmas Thought

I have finally emerged from the shopping and the gift wrapping to write this blog.

That's about the only thing I'm caught up on. But as moms, are we really ever "caught up"? Not me! Dishes are filling the sink and the surrounding counter top area. Legos have taken over the other side of the counters. A girl can't even have possession of her own kitchen. Isn't anything sacred anymore???

I digress... Dishes will always be there and so will the Legos. (Oh, the Legos.) But Christmastime is rapidly approaching and will soon be past. So, I will take a moment to think on that.

There has been a scripture that has stood out to me this Christmas. It is something that John the Baptist's dad, Zechariah, said about Jesus.

Zechariah was an interesting man. He was a priest who became mute because he did not believe an angel that said his wife would become pregnant. Zechariah thought he was too old for that to happen. Can you blame the guy for his disbelief? I'd probably react the same way. (You can read his story in Luke 1:5-25, 57-80.)

Anyway, Zechariah was to remain silent until his baby boy was born. According to the angel Gabriel's prophecy, Zechariah knew that his son was going to be exceptional. He knew that his son would prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. And he also knew the baby was to be named John.

As the angel described, Zechariah remained silent his son was circumcised and named. As soon as Zechariah wrote that the baby's name was to be John, he was able to speak. Quite a story! Quite a punishment for not believing!

But that's not the point of this blog (thankfully). When Zechariah was able to speak, he had a prophecy of his own. It was like he had been gathering up his thoughts and storing up his words for the moment he would be able to speak again.

He had a prophecy about his son, John, but it is what he said about Jesus that I just love.
"Because of God's tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace" (Luke 1:78-79).
I just love how this prophecy shares so much about God's character. First, God is merciful. I love how his mercy is described as tender. I just get such a sweet picture of God the Father from these words. Just like how a daddy tenderly loves his little boy or girl, that is how God loves us and has compassion on us. He didn't want to leave us alone or in the dark.

Second, these words describe Jesus as Jesus would later describe himself.  In John 8:12 Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life." Jesus came to be our hope, a bright light in the darkness. He also came to light the way to God, for it is only through Jesus that we can see God and be saved.

Last, the prophecy says that this light, Jesus, will guide us to the path of peace. Jesus is described as the "Prince of Peace" in Isaiah 9:6. So how exactly do you find the path of peace? Know and trust in Jesus, for He is Peace. He came to give us peace. Jesus said, "I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid" (John 14:27). One thing I am sure of is this: we all need this peace. The world is scary and dangerous. Families are under attack. People are facing all kinds of diseases, stresses, and trials. Jesus came to be peace in all of these situations.

So as I take the time to think about Christmas and about Jesus, I let Zechariah's wise words wash over me. What a gift we have in Jesus!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Peace for the Heavy Heart

Really, I should be cleaning right now, but I don't want to.

God has put something on my heart, and I have finally decided to share it. A mess can definitely wait.

My heart has been heavy the past few months. My first born went off to public school (which I totally support,) and we are in an election season that is so turbulent that you'd have to live under a rock to not be concerned. 

Or maybe not. Maybe you love one of the two major party candidates, and you're excited. Good for you. I cannot say the same.

But this is not a political blog post. 

I have just had a heavy heart over the past few months because it seems that my values and the values upheld by Jesus are not represented in the political candidates or in the public schools. Our school district decided to follow the president's executive order to avoid losing state funding. How is that acceptable? With no votes from the people? Anyway, to avoid a political discussion, my point is that my values are not represented in the decisions of the school district.

And similarly, my values and beliefs are not represented in either of the two major party political candidates. 

I have recently felt that I have no choices in these matters that are ultimately of great importance to me.


But you know what? Christians should not be surprised. No where in the Bible are we promised that we will be the majority. No where in the Bible does it say we will have an easy life. Jesus says just the opposite. 
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
We will have sorrow and face things that weigh us down. But Jesus offers us two things. First, He came to earth and continues to teach us so that we may have peace. This is a guarantee from Him. No matter what we face, we can have peace in our souls if we seek Jesus. And second, Jesus already overcame the world. What this means for us is that we have hope. There is no reason to fear the future of this country. If we have faith in Jesus, it's all good for us in the end!

I also have taken great comfort in the fact that nothing, not even this election, is out of God's control. Not only does God control all government officials; He put them ALL into place.
"Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God" (Romans 13:1).
We have no reason to fear and no reason to freak out. I think all we can do is pray for God's wisdom before we vote and obey when His Spirit leads.  

I have prayed and have come to peace with who I will vote for. God delivers peace when we ask! He gives wisdom when we ask! 
"If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you" (James 1:5).
And furthermore, we do not need to feel out of control. Humans love to have control (especially women, I think!) But we forget that we don't need to worry about things, great or small. 

There is a song on the radio now that has been giving me great comfort. It's "King of the World" by Natalie Grant. I will leave you with the lyrics because they are so powerful. For the youtube video click here.

I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind
I try to keep you safely in between the lines
I try to put you in the box that I've designed
I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world
Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead
Still I run ahead and think I'm strong enough
When you're the one who made me from the dust
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world
Oh, you set it all in motion
Every single moment
You brought it all to me
And you're holding on to me
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all
When did I forget you've always been the king of the world
You will always be the king of the world