Grace for Ordinary Days

 Posted by on March 4, 2014  2 Responses »
Mar 042014
 

Winter can be a dreary time of year.  Lots of rain or snow make the sun disappear for days at a time.  Little irritations can seem so much bigger than they really are. The promise of spring is ahead, but just out of reach.  And the kids.  They just want to be outside!  (How do you help a two year old understand that he cannot ride his bike when it is 30 degrees outside?!)

How does one make it through the long season of short days and longer nights? Only by His grace.  There have been many days lately that I have felt like a failure as a Mom.  I have felt like I am doing this all wrong, and that my children will bear the ill-affects.  But when I start thinking like that, I must remind myself that it is not all about me!  The ultimate good of my children rests in the hands of my all-wise Father, and He can use me in spite of the times I fall.

My boys both got bikes for Christmas, and sad to say, they have both already had little wrecks here and there.  Do they quit, though?  No. They cry a little, get Mama to kiss their ouchie, and then get back on and pedal some more.

Yes we will fail as Moms. We’ll have those days when all we can do at the end of them is to beg God for grace for the next day.  Don’t give up.  Keep trusting His grace, knowing that “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (I Thess. 5:24)

Feb 132014
 

So it’s February already. How are you doing on that daily Bible reading plan you committed to at the beginning of January?  I so appreciated Heidi’s post on the Habit of Daily Bible Enrichment at the beginning of January. . . I’m sure you did too.  How it is going, though, seriously?  Have you kept up with it, or have you been struggling?

At the end of 2013, I spent some time thinking about my strategy for my quiet time for 2014.  For a while now, I have thoroughly enjoyed taking small portions of Scripture each day, and really digging in to what just a verse or two had to say to me, and journaling about it.  But, as time went on, I realized I was missing getting the broad view of Scripture by reading through the whole Bible in a year, as I have done so many times before.  As the mother of two small boys, I knew finding time to do both would be quite a challenge.  And then, I was introduced to the You Version app for my smartphone.  It has ALL kinds of daily Bible reading plans built into it already, and best of all in my opinion, it will read it out loud to you, as well!!  Problem solved for me! I can still enjoy my quiet time with my small portions of Scripture and my journal in the early morning, and then during the day, while performing mindless tasks like washing dishes or folding laundry, I can listen through the whole Bible.  I love that my boys also are listening to it along with me.

P.S.  If you search for it and it comes up with an app simply named “Bible,” that is the one. It didn’t call it You Version until I downloaded it.

Habits for the Hard Times

 Posted by on January 16, 2014  1 Response »
Jan 162014
 

“You can search for what you want, but you must accept what God gives.”

This was part of a conversation my Mom and I had recently. The last few weeks have shown me some of the more difficult side of life.  There’s the friend who lost her husband of many decades just 12 days before Christmas.  There’s the husband  trying to provide for his family, but is demoted when he is made to look bad in the eyes of his boss, by his co-workers.  There is the sweet new mother that can’t figure out why this precious new life will not sleep more than 30 minutes at a time.  Life wasn’t supposed to look like that.  That’s not what they had imagined!

We go through life trying to get what we want, reaching for our dreams. . .imagining how we think life should be.  We may think we’ve got life planned and tied up neatly with a satiny bow; but then He may make it plain that what we have planned may not be what He has planned.

What are we to do when what He gives is not what we wanted?  Not what we were searching for?  Not how we imagined it?   Look for His beauty in the trials.  Lean into His grace.  And sometimes most difficult of all. . .thank him in the midst of it.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Simple Christmas

 Posted by on December 3, 2013  3 Responses »
Dec 032013
 

Simplicity.  Simple things, simple joys, simple beauty.  It’s what I crave right now.  I guess it’s understandable, since we sold/donated/gave away almost everything we owned when we moved back in September.  I am finding that I have a desire to keep life that way. . .simple.

When you look closely enough, what beauty there is in the simple things of life!  The steam curling upward from a cup of hot tea, the fire dancing in the fireplace, the look of wonder in my sons’ eyes when they see the lit up Christmas tree for the first time. . .these things are simple.  They do not cost a lot of money.  They do not take extravagant amounts of time to accomplish (unless you’re a perfectionist when it comes to decorating your tree).  {smile}  What joy we can find in simple things!

We are keeping Christmas simple this year.  Why stress about gifts, and having everything just right, when the whole purpose of the season is to worship the One Who came as a baby, so that He could rescue us and show us His light?

Why not skip the craziness at the mall and opt instead for a giving hand-made gifts, or a few gifts that are meaningful?  How about using some of your gift giving budget to give to others that have way less than what we usually find just under our Christmas tree on Christmas morning?  Our family participated in Operation Christmas Child, again this year.  What a wonderful experience it was to show our kids how much fun it can be to give something to others. . .rather than just focusing on what we are getting!

Will you join me?  Let’s keep the Christmas craziness away, enjoy the simple things, and keep our families focused on our precious Savior. . .the Reason for the season.

Searching for Joy

 Posted by on November 5, 2013  2 Responses »
Nov 052013
 

Hello, there!  I’m back!  I’ve missed being part of this space the last couple months, and I’m excited to join you all again.  My family and I have successfully and safely moved across the country, and seen God’s gracious provision for our family every step of the way.  Rather than tell the stories all over again, feel free to check out my personal blog to get caught up. . .after you read this post, of course.  {wink, wink}

It was raining. . .again.  Not the kind of rain that feels like someone is pouring bucketfuls of water from the sky, but a misting rain that would play for a while and then suddenly disappear. . . only to tease you by coming back again when you were least expecting it.  My four-year-old looked out the window, and said, “Mom, let’s go down to the creek!  We could watch the rain splash into the water and then we could throw rocks on top of the splashes!”  Since it was a bit of a chilly day, I persuaded him and his little brother (who had joined in with a pleading “Go cweek, Mama! Thow wocks!”) that it would be better to put on our rain boots and enjoy the puddles a little closer to the house.

As we played outside that morning, I was struck with this thought.  Jordan could’ve looked out the window at the rain and been sad that it would mess up his day; instead, he looked at the rain for its possibilities.  Maybe he couldn’t go out and roll around in the grass, but he could sure splash around in the puddles!

How are we looking at life right now?  Are we so busy looking at the foreboding rainclouds that we forget that joy can still be found in the puddles the rainclouds bring?

I’ve been reminded before, during a time of testing, by a friend to “Fight for joy.”  What a word picture that is!  You may be in a tough season of life right now, but in the midst of life’s trials, one can always be looking, searching, fighting for the bright spot of joy.

Maybe you’re the little family that has recently gone through a big transition. . .everything is different.  Will you choose to long for what you gave up to follow your dream, or will you choose to look at life with the excitement that starting over brings?

Maybe you’re the Mama who has recently become single, whose dreams of a long, happy marriage to the love of her life have been shattered, and her children’s lives changed forever.  Will you choose to dwell on all you have lost, or will you choose to look for joy despite the ache in your heart that says life wasn’t supposed to be this way?

Maybe you’re the wife praying desperately that your husband will get a job. . . .yesterday would be great.  .  .  Will you choose to dwell on each “no” that comes from interview after interview, or will you choose to look for joy and be the encourager you husband needs?

What is the answer for these. . .and for all of us?  “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”  Fight, my friends, fight for joy.  When we are in the midst of the worst trials of our life, that is an opportunity to glorify God by choosing to rest in Him and wait patiently for Him.

For me (and you, too, I am sure) finding joy begins in my mind.  Am I choosing to think about the negative things in my life, or am I choosing in stead to fill my heart and mind with Scripture and with hope that comes from Him?  I truly want to enjoy my God-given life; so if I am going to do that, I must continually be focusing my mind on my gracious God and the good things he has given me.

Choosing to fight for joy is one reason I post so many happy photos on Facebook and Instagram. Going through my day looking for one beautiful thing to photograph and/or one fun memory to capture helps keep me focused on the positive side of life. I am sure there are those who would look at my social media profiles and say that I am hypocritical for posting mostly the good things and leaving out the bad things. But, I would have to say back to them, that I am choosing to highlight the good and lovely things in my life because God’s Word says to “Think on things that are true, just, lovely, of good report. . .”

Now, looking for the good things, things to be grateful for, may look different for you.  Perhaps you would rather write about it, perhaps you would rather draw or paint a beautiful memory from the day, or perhaps you would rather make something beautiful with your hands.  However that may work out for you, make sure you are choosing to set your mind on things above, focusing on the greatness of your God displayed through the everyday beauties we see all around us.  And, if you do so, you will be a long way down the road to winning the fight for joy.

~ Written by Amy @ JerAmy