He is Big Enough for Your Needs Too

Everywhere I look there are needs. Big, overwhelming, heart-rending needs.

These are the needs that surround:

a diagnosis
a death
financial disaster
catastrophe
infertility
and more.

Some of our needs stem from the good things in life:

The new baby means sleepless nights.
The job promotion requires extra work.
The big exciting move means making new friends.
The first home comes with a long list of updates.
The new marriage stretches from the comfort zone.
The needs keep coming.

There are needs that we try to push to the side because other needs seem bigger in the moment:

The needs to be wanted, loved, adored, remembered.
The needs for conversation, hope, rest, support, community, and comfort.
Then there are the unnamed needs that keep nagging at our heart and we can’t shake them no matter how hard we try.

All of these needs are important. All of these needs matter. And you know what’s true? God is big enough for your needs too.

It’s easy to see someone who has great need and to feel like your smaller needs must take the back burner for the time being. But you know what else is true?

Your need is not so small that it will slip through His fingers. Your need will never be too heavy for Him to carry. There is no need too big or too small for Him to hold. 

He carries it all simultaneously, and it gives Him great pleasure to do so.

What is your need? Name it. Place it in His arms and allow Him to carry it. He will see you through.

 “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7

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Fasting When You Have Little People

I’ve been doing some deep work here on the blog. For one thing, I’m completely overhauling the website, and I hope to have the new site ready to launch in the next month or two. For another thing, I’ve been reading and praying and researching so that I can best serve you, my reader.

Here are some things I believe to be true about you: 

1. You love Jesus.
2. You are a momma of little people.
3. You want to make a difference as you pour the love of Jesus into the lives of your little people.

There are exceptions to this (Hi, Daddy), but in general, how am I doing so far?

The plan going forward, is to write with these perceptions in mind. I don’t want to waste your time by randomly sticking up posts. Instead, I want to be your cheerleader and encourage you as you pursue the heart of your heavenly Father.

I haven’t finished the deep work yet, but I’d love to carry on a conversation in the process. So, how about we start with fasting?

Every January and August my church (along with many others) does a season of 21 days of prayer and fasting. It is a time of early rising to intentionally spend time in worship, Bible study, and prayer; giving God the first of our day in an act of submission to Him.

Fasting is the practice of abstaining from something in an effort to connect with God. He doesn’t like us more if we do it, we are not a superior Christian if we do it, but it does honor Him by removing distractions as we focus our heart and attention toward Him.

The question is, how do we effectively fast with little people around?

I don’t know about you, but my little people do not always follow my pre-determined schedule. They tend to wake up mid-way through the 6am livestream, and since their bodies are still growing, l cannot ask them to fast from food. These small ones are the definition of hangry.

Some of you may be pregnant, or nursing, or have health needs that require you to eat. Some of you aren’t sleeping very much at the moment because the baby is still waking up three or more times every night. This makes it hard (impossible?) to wake up early enough to have an entire hour of quiet with the Lord.

Here is what I want you to hear today: God sees your heart and He loves your efforts.

Our season of fasting may look a little different during these younger years, but that does not make them wasted. Consider implementing one of the following ideas for 21 days. Will any of these work for your current stage of life?

7 Ideas for fasting with little people:

-Starting the day with worship music.
-Staying off of social media.
-Keeping the tv off after the kiddos have gone to bed.
-Choosing one verse to meditate on during the course of the day. Or week. Or 21 days.
-Fasting from one type of food item. What is it that you reach for when you just need a moment? Instead of reaching for it, pray to Jesus.
-Fasting one meal during the day.
-Consuming a liquid diet for one day.

No matter what you do, it’s the heart behind it that matters. God loves for His people to seek after Him. He knows your current reality and sees the sacrifices that you make to spend time with Him. He delights in you.

Keep after it. Any time you find to devote toward God will not be wasted.

“‘When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.’ God’s Decree.” Jeremiah 29:12-14 (The Message)

Intentional

The last time I did any sort of resolution for the New Year, I said I was going to lose 5 pounds. I ended up gaining 7, so you can see how well that worked out.

Somehow, something feels different this year. I don’t mean the weight (as of this morning those 5+7lbs of extra fluff were still waiting to greet me). What’s different is that for a month or more, I’ve had a word plastered across my mind and heart. I believe it is the word God has given me for the coming year.

Intentional.

I’ve heard of people choosing a word to define their year, but I’ve never done it. The words always felt too forced, so I never let the idea go past the initial thought stage. This time I can’t get the word out of my head.

It mostly stems from a realization that I unintentionally waste a lot of time. No judging here y’all, but sometimes I spend way too much time playing Candy Crush. Or scrolling Facebook. Or taking a nap.

These aren’t bad things, but when I let these simple little indulgences eat up my time, they get in the way of the bigger goals I have. Goals like, connecting with Jesus, writing consistently in my blog, updating my website, keeping up with household responsibilities, being a pillar for my children and my husband, serving my church, being available for my friends, etc etc.

None of that can happen while playing Candy Crush.

My other problem is that I haven’t been very good about writing things down. Say, for instance, both children are happily (!) working on their school during our homeschool hours. I usually have quite a lot of things I could accomplish, but because I haven’t written any of it down, I spend this unexpected free time trying to figure out the best use of the free time. And suddenly, my free time vanishes like my money in Target.

So far I have intentionally done two things to help me be intentional with my time this year:

  1. I enlisted a friend to read one book a month with me. I like to read, but sometimes I get distracted by little what-nots on my phone, and before I know it my time to read has vanished. I’m already 75% through my first book, and we haven’t even officially begun yet. Just knowing someone else is doing this with me helps me stick to my goal and gives me a desire to see if I can accomplish even more than my original number.
  2. I bought a planner. This isn’t the first time in my life I’ve owned a planner, but I never seem to know what to do with them. I tend to record appointments each month, and then just glance at it every now and then. Not very helpful. What I’m excited about in this planner is the goal tracker. Each month I can write down specific goals and record whether or not I’ve met them. Knowing myself, I’ll be much more intentional with my time knowing it’s going to be recorded in ink.

Sometimes I feel like I can’t find time to write, but the truth is, I may just have to buckle down and write in the less convenient moments of my life. I’m not saying it will be easy, or perfect, but I do believe that by being more intentional with the cracks*, I’ll be able to make headway on the greater purpose I believe God has for me.

What word would you choose for this coming year? What strategies have helped you be intentional in the past?

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” Phillippians 3:12-14 (The Message)

*writing in the cracks is a phrase I’ve seen used in my hope*writers group. Can’t claim that one for myself!

About that Christmas Puppy

Christmas puppy caught getting into the Christmas tree.

I’m pretty sure that by this point you’ve already done it. You’ve selected the puppy and you are eagerly awaiting the moment you can bring that sweet little ball of fluff home and video the delighted squeals of your children. You will be the hero of the day, you bringer of the Christmas puppy.

That is, unless your child distraughtly bemoans, “I wanted a cat!” Not that I know this from experience or anything.

But do you really know what you are getting yourself into?

It will all work out okay in the end. I can say these words because I absolutely ADORE the dog we got for our girls two Christmases ago. He snuggles in my lap every morning whilst I have my quiet time. He’s the happiest, softest, fluffiest, sweetest dog I’ve ever met. He treats the girls like they are his puppies and he doesn’t think twice about the way they grab and hug him all over. 

However, heed my warning before you bring your little guy home: it took us a full two years to get to this point.

He was SO tiny!

Alright, so let’s face it. The timing was not ideal. The girls were 4 and 2 at the time. I knew this would mean potty training a child and a dog simultaneously. I did not anticipate quite how difficult that task would be.

I think, deep down, I knew it wasn’t the best time for us to get a dog. But you see, the thing is, my husband HATES dogs and getting one for Christmas was HIS idea!!!! Please understand, when your husband of 10 years suggests getting a dog for the first time in your marriage, you push aside any logic and you go write a check.

Due to hubby’s deep aversion to all things canine, I gave him full reign over the type of dog we would get. He requested the same breed as our neighbor’s dog, a shih tzu, since it was the only dog he had ever halfway tolerated.

I mean, who wouldn’t love this teeny, fluffy guy?

Shih Tzu’s are notoriously hard to potty train. I’d say it took us a good year and a half before I felt really comfortable calling him potty trained. Even now, I have to leave him in his crate when we leave the house so that he doesn’t have an accident.

But do you know what it’s like to potty train a puppy in the middle of winter when you have a toddler???

First, notice just how small this puppy was. Rule number 1 of potty training a puppy is to lavish love and praises and treats whenever they tinkle outside. However, the grass was taller than he was! It was very difficult to tell if he had accomplished something worthy of such grand celebration, or if he was just fascinated by the nearest leaf. We spent a lot of time outside and it was cold.

Also, keep in mind that while I was spending all this time outside praising and watching puppy, my kiddos were back inside the house. Think about this for a moment. My choice was to either leave my little ones, inside, by themselves (bracing myself for impeding disaster), or wait the half-hour it would take to get them ready to come with me. By that time, puppy would have an accident. No matter what I chose, the two-year-old was often in tears.

Potty training a puppy also meant getting up in the middle of the night to take him outside. It was like having a newborn all over again, except I didn’t have to nurse him and I could shove him in his crate when I went to bed. So, not really much like a newborn at all except for the lack of sleep part.

And did I mention, the dog would eat his poop? Yeah. There was that. His favorite thing to do was sneak off, poop when I wasn’t watching, and clean it up himself, which was so considerate of him. I still have to monitor this.

Your Christmas puppy may or may not like to dig in the yard.

And potty training was just ONE of the issues we dealt with. Before buying your Christmas puppy, please consider all of the following:

-puppy chewing up your children’s toys
-puppy chewing up your children’s pants’ legs (there was a while there when every single pair of pants had holes in them)
-puppy having random bouts of diarrhea or vomiting
-buying special food to avoid the diarrhea or vomiting 
-puppy running away when outside without a leash (avoidable if you have a fence)
-puppy greeting every single guest by jumping all over them
-vet bills
-paying for training sessions that may or may not be successful
-accepting that training your children how to work with the puppy may be even harder than training the puppy how to deal with your children
-boarding/dog-sitting fees when you are out of town
-etcetera etcetera

But of course, you’ve already met that sweet little puppy, haven’t you? And he or she is SO cute and you’ve already picked out a name. 

In that case, ignore everything I just said and ENJOY your sweet little house mate!! And please, show me the Christmas video!

As obnoxious as he could be at the beginning, he certainly made up for it in adorableness! 

Breathing Amidst the Busy Season

Closeup of motherhood figure

Life is full of seasons.

First, and most obvious, are the four seasons of every year: winter, spring, summer, and fall. I love living in North Carolina because we get to experience all four seasons, but my favorite is summer. I can’t stand being cold and I love never having to wonder what the weather is going to be that day. The forecast? Hot. End of story.

There are major life cycle seasons. Grade school, college, dating, first job, newlyweds, new home, first baby, etc. Each of these seasons teach us something new about ourselves. I’ve noticed that when I transition from one season to another, I’m likely to gravitate toward other people in a similar season. Is this true of you too?

Other seasons are much less obvious and often unexpected. This can look like a season of job searching, moving somewhere new, fighting health issues, or perhaps being a primary caretaker of a loved one. These seasons can be hard, rewarding, challenging, exhilarating, or exhausting. They push us to our limits and beyond. How we handle these seasons can make us stronger or leave us stagnant. Sometimes it’s circumstances beyond our control, and other times it’s a result of decisions we have made. No matter the cause, we have the opportunity to let the season change us for the better. Are you in one of these seasons right now? Have you come out of one recently?

The holiday season is upon us currently. This one comes every year and some of us love it, while others dread it. Personally, I love it, but I’m ready for a breather when it all comes to an end. Where do you fall on this line? 

My current season is one I have brought upon myself, despite feeling like I finally figured out how to conquer it. A season of busyness.

Why do I do this to myself?

This past spring and summer was a breathing season for me. I said “no” to a lot of great things I would usually have gone out of my way to do. But by the end of summer, I felt a surplus of energy and proceeded to add everything in all at once.

It was too much. So, you know what happened? The pieces of that schedule that I was most excited about took a back burner. The things that would bring me the most life and energy, were the ones that got neglected.

For me to be the best version of myself, I require time away from my kids. I’m a stay-at-home momma. My children are my job, my life. I love them to bits and pieces, but sometimes I want to strangle them. I’m learning that for me to be the best momma I can possibly be, I have to incorporate regular time that has nothing to do with my kiddos so that I don’t all of a sudden blow up and fall to pieces in front of them.

I don’t know about you, but I require rest. I require breaks. I need time to breathe, to think, to be still.

My season of busyness will be ending after Christmas, so I’m currently evaluating what I can truly say “yes” to. And as we enter this Christmas season, I’m reminding myself of what is important. What actually matters. All my commitments are positive and good, but what are the things that fill me in such a way that I can continue to pour out to others?

I hereby give you permission to take a break. Maybe that means you get store-bought rather than homemade for that cookie exchange. Maybe it means throwing gifts in a bag instead of wrapping. Maybe you can hire someone to clean your house or simply decide to let your cleaning standards slide for the time being. In this incredibly busy holiday season, choose what’s best. Focus on what matters. 

How will you give yourself a chance to breathe? Will this allow you to then breathe life into someone else?

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:5-6