When You Have Nothing Left To Give

When You Have Nothing Left To Give

It’s 3:30 P.M. and I am DONE with this day.  How in the world will I make it until Dad gets home?  The baby just won’t take an afternoon nap anymore, which of course means she will be incredibly cranky by 6:00, but that’s far too early for bedtime.  The big kids are in quiet time, but somehow I can still hear every single thing they do or say.  My quiet time is obviously nonexistent since the baby has decided not to nap.  Instead I’ll have a snack that I have to share.  Did I mention I am thirty weeks pregnant with my fourth child?  Or that I home school, so I am solely responsible for the needs of all of my children all day long?

OK, the baby is playing and reading books happily, I’ll get something to drink and catch up on Facebook happenings and my email.  Then I realize I’d better be sure I have everything I need to make dinner.  Speaking of dinner, what time will Dad be home tonight?  I’d better text him to find out.

Me: Hey, how’s your day going?
Him: Blah.
Me: I’m sorry.  Working late?
Him: I won’t be early.

Great.  Another late night.  Another night that my duties just don’t end.  It’s ok.  Deep breath.  Be thankful he has a good job that pays all the bills.

This is the moment my peace begins to crumble.

The big kids get done with quiet time and the battle to clean up their rooms begins.  Everyone is bickering or distracted.  Everyone is hungry and tired of each other.  Here’s the thing: I know what to do in these situations, right?  I mean, I have a degree in child development.  I have an arsenal of clean-up songs and games and quick activities that can give us all a break.  Except all of those things are lost in my pregnant brain…OK, prayer, right?  I can say a prayer; read a verse; have a breath of fresh encouragement to pull from.  Except who can say a prayer or read the scriptures when there’s a screaming banshee baby attached to my legs?

I’ll stop there.  As you can see this scenario is set up for defeat.  Mom is over-tired, over-worked, under-encouraged, and too pregnant!  Obviously not every day goes like this.  Some days the baby will nap, or Dad does come home on time.  Occasionally, everyone can manage to get along.  Some days.  But some days are just hard.  And in that moment, a mother can really start to spiral downward.  Especially when there is no one else there to provide back-up, relief, or just run interference for a while.  Single moms.  Moms of overworked husbands.  Working moms!  Any mom can find herself here.

But take heart, Momma!  There is hope.

Here are some verses I have found helpful and will be referring back to during these particularly turbulent days.

Psalm 120:1

I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.

This is step one!  Call upon the Lord, He will hear you.

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

Step 2.  Cast your cares upon him.  There is nothing too small or too insignificant for God.  He cares about YOU.

Psalm 46:1-3

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.


Oh my goodness, yes!  Isn’t it funny how the children’s fighting and the baby’s crying and the mother’s exhaustion can be so symbolically perfect with this verse?  It can so easily feel like the earth is giving way and the mountains are falling into the sea. This verse is a soothing balm to my soul because I know the Lord is my refuge during these times.  He is a safe place for me to rest, if only for a moment!

More Verses of Encouragement

Isaiah 1:10

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Step 3.  Do not fear.  God will strengthen you and help you.  He has not left you or forgotten you.  You are important to Him!

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Step 4.  You have peace.  After approaching God and casting your cares on Him, He will give you strength and peace to endure.  Praise the Lord for His promises!

Psalm 16:8

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Step 5. Keep your eyes upon the Lord.  I frequently struggle with this step.  If I were able to keep a proper perspective in the beginning, I would not be so easily overwhelmed.  However, we know that the flesh is weak but in God we can be made strong!

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Encouragement on the Motherhood Journey

I hope that these verses can be an encouragement to you like they are to me.  I find myself dealing with an easily overwhelmed spirit as I enter the end of a pregnancy and exhaustion creeps in.  These verses are a great help to me in those times.  I hope these can be a help in whatever trials you find yourself struggling through during your motherhood journey.

What are some ways that you find renewal during the particularly tough days of motherhood?

What encouraging words would you give to yourself or another struggling mother during the hard times?

 

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

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Always Looking for Something Better

Always Looking for Something Better

Something Better to Solve My Problems

I’ve been noticing something about myself lately.  One of those light bulb moments when I wonder how long this particular aspect of my personality has been manifesting itself. Then I get a little self-conscious about how many other people know this about me.  Of course, you introspective types generally know yourself well enough that you are probably seldom surprised by these types of revelations. I live in a cloud of oblivion and have these types of sudden revelations happen more often than I’d like to admit.

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But I digress.  The other day, I realized that I am regularly looking for some amazing solution for my problems.  On Amazon I can generally find something that might solve whatever homemaking, homeschooling, or other problem I may be having for about $12.99.  Unfortunately that solution may or may not fix my problem.  If it does, that’s great, but inevitably another issue will crop up that I then have to find the solution to.

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The Foolishness of Searching for Something Better

This verse brought my previous thoughts rushing back to me this morning at Bible Study.  Our ladies’ Bible Study has been working through the book of Proverbs.  Some proverbs have been relatively straightforward and easy to talk through. Others have been a little more thought-provoking.

This was one of those passages for all of us ladies in the study.  Through cross-referencing and a little help from the footnotes, we were able to glean the picture of a wise man looking towards the plans God has for him and storing up treasures in heaven while a foolish man chases his desires to the ends of the earth.  As profound as that is, it seems a little silly to relate it back to what has become a shopping habit.  However, when I look at the heart behind the behavior I recognize that very verse.  I recognize the foolishness of chasing material possessions to alleviate discomfort or stress because of clutter, disorganization, or bad habits.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about a few sanity-saving necessities! The fact that Amazon Prime allows me to put those products to use in my crazy home in two days is amazing!  It has been one of my very favorite modern amenities.  However, when I dig to the root of my behavior I begin to ask myself, “Did I pray about this problem before I hopped online?”  Uh, nope.  Didn’t even cross my mind.  I’ll admit that I am regularly at fault for this transgression.  In fact, the bible is very clear:


Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6


So the bible is telling me to bring everything to God in prayer.  Not some things.  Not a particular list of things God deems important enough to listen to.  Everything.  So when I’m struggling with something and I bring it to the Lord in prayer, He will hear it.  And perhaps instead of buying my idea of a “solution” from my favorite online retailer, the Lord will reveal to me an attitude that needs to be fixed, or a habit that needs to be built, or perhaps just patience on my part.

I’ll send you off with the words from one of my favorite hymns:

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
And what a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer

Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer

Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer

Are you going through a struggle that you could bring to the Lord in prayer?

I’d love to hear the ways you remind yourself to take everything to God in prayer!


Be encouraged by these posts as well!

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Loving Your Neighbors During the Holidays (Pumpkin Bread Recipe)

Loving Your Neighbors During the Holidays (Pumpkin Bread Recipe)

I have a tough time loving my neighbors.

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For me, this is just not something that comes naturally.  I can say hello and make a bit of small talk here and there, but beyond that I mostly try to ignore my neighbors.  That sounds so mean!  However, I think it’s something that’s true for most of us.  We are comfortable to a certain degree with the strangers that surround our own personal space. But beyond a quick hello or wave, I think most people prefer to tuck away and not be sociable.

To me, it feels funny to be expected to make friends with complete strangers.  After all, my friends are people I’ve CHOSEN.  Neighbors are not chosen.  I choose to surround myself with like-minded people.  Because I like to be comfortable in expressing myself with the people I spend time with, I choose them accordingly.  I also like to surround myself with friends who have similar parenting styles.  Someone I trust my children to.  None of these qualities are things I get to choose in my neighbors.

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light of the world

A Light for Christ Cannot Be Hidden

I do, however, recognize that I cannot possibly shine my light for Christ if I’ve kept it hidden away behind the door to my house. And so each year I try to do something nice for my neighbors.  That sounds pretty lame now that I’m writing it out.  Once a year?  Is that all I can muster?  Perhaps I will have to find other opportunities throughout the year to bless my neighbors. For now, sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, my children and I bake pumpkin bread for our neighbors.

The recipe I want to share with you today is from my dear friend Megs.  There is probably someone who needs to be credited with this recipe, but she’s the one who first made it for me so she’ll get the credit here!  This recipe turns out incredibly delicious, so keep that in mind when you’re baking!  You’ll want to be sure and leave some for your family as well.

Pumpkin Bread

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

5 eggs
1 1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
2 (3oz) packages of instant vanilla pudding
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs well.  Add oil and pumpkin and beat until smooth.  Next, combine all of the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and stir to mix.  Gradually beat into pumpkin mixture, scraping the bowl between additions.  Pour batter into two well-greased 5×9 loaf pans.  Each pan should be a little over half-full.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a knife can be inserted and removed cleanly.  Let stand 10 minutes to cool.  Remove from pan and serve!

Mini-Loaf Option for More to Share

When I make this for the neighbors, I use a mini loaf pan that holds 12 mini loaves.  I grease the pan generously and fill about 3/4 of the way full.  Bake at 325 for about 45 minutes.  After my mini loaves cool completely, I wrap them in plastic wrap and tie a pretty bow around the loaves.  I try to include a message of well wishes from our family and we hand deliver them to the neighbors.

How does your family like to shine the light of Jesus?

What are some ways that you love your neighbors?

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

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Reading the Scriptures Through the Eyes of an Unbeliever

Reading the Scriptures Through the Eyes of an Unbeliever

Last month I wrote about being more diligent against laziness in my life (read about that here).  Part of what that means for me is regularly and intentionally reading my bible in the mornings.  Many mornings my children will rise before I’m done–and sometimes before I’ve even started–but I press on.  I occasionally read the same passages two days in a row if my children have interrupted the previous days’ reading enough that I didn’t retain much of what I read. However, I am glad that they see me immersed in the Word, and I pray that the seed that is planted from these early mornings will sprout and grow as they grow.

I chose to begin my bible reading right at the beginning.  I purchased a devotional bible that has a short devotional every few pages, and I try to read one devotional each day as well as the scriptures in between.  If I miss a day, I don’t get upset; after all, I need to give myself grace occasionally. However, I put it in my mind each night that I will wake up in time to get my bible reading in.

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In the Beginning

When I set out on this endeavor I had given it quite a bit of thought.  For some time, I had felt that I needed to find a way to get more Bible into my life.  I do well with doing Bible lessons and memory work with our children, but for myself my discipline was lacking.  Then one day it hit me.  If someone questioned my faith, would I be able to stand up for it?  If one of my friends or family members asked about certain questionable passages that throw us all for a loop, would I understand what it means or know the appropriate response?

A resounding NO was in my mind.  Because I grew up in the church, I know no other way.  And yet I did not have the knowledge to back up my faith.  I attended a Christian college and yet my studies there still did not equip me to defend my faith.

Taking Action

I knew at that moment I was not going to pass through another day without equipping myself with the knowledge to defend my faith.  That meant asking a lot of hard, uncomfortable questions.  It meant putting my faith in God that whatever answers I discovered would not invoke fear in me but understanding and acceptance.  During my younger years I always felt that a person had to be a bible scholar to be able to understand the deeper meanings in the passages of the Bible.  Time and maturity has allowed me to see that through reading quality resources and prayer for wisdom, a simple Christian like myself can understand the words written in the sacred texts.

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And so I set out to read through the scriptures as best I could through the eyes of an unbeliever.  Based on my upbringing, it would not be possible for me to be 100% unbiased.  However I can read the passages without assuming the “goodness” behind the words.  It has allowed me to ask questions that I hadn’t recognized before.  I have been able to allow my emotions to be unguarded.

In reading through the scriptures I’ve found myself feeling pity for some and something bordering on disgust for others.  I’ve been able to see the stories in a different light.  I’ve seen the Israelites through the eyes of a parent with whining and disobedient children.  But I’ve also been able to ask hard questions about questionable morals and living situations.  It’s allowed me freedom to recognize the imperfections of the people and still accept them as part of God’s plan.  It’s taught me more about my lack of grace than any other single lesson in my life.

Pressing On

I still have a long way to go to get through the Bible, but I’m happy to say I’m in no hurry.  Some chapters and entire books are difficult to get through because of lengthy lineage or repetitive language. Nevertheless, I have read each one.  Looking at the passages as building blocks to my faith brings a whole new meaning to the words.  Even greater than that is the freedom to allow myself to question anything I come upon that doesn’t seem to fit.  While some questions are yet unanswered, I am blessed with many knowledgeable people and an abundance of resources to call upon.

Have you ever had your faith challenged? 

Were you able to adequately defend it?

Please share with me the ways you expand your knowledge and understanding of God’s word. 

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

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My Fast Against Laziness

My Fast Against Laziness

Occasionally I find myself in a rut of general laziness.  Do you ever get to that place?  As a homeschooling mom of four little ones I often tell myself that I deserve a much-needed break.  Sometimes I say to myself that I’ve earned this time to read for five hours a little while.  If I’m being honest, there are days my break times are exceptionally long and my work times exceptionally short.  I can easily fall into this trap of allowing myself time to “rest” or telling myself that I’m relaxing, when in reality I’m just wasting time.

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Wow! There’s a lot of depth in this proverb.  Let’s consider for a moment that we’re looking beyond the obvious overgrowth of thorns and disorder that encompass my home when I’m in my “resting” time.  I’d even like to look past the deeper implications this has on my relationship with my husband and my children.  Let’s look past my husband’s dissatisfaction when he finds himself scrambling for work clothes through days-old stacks of laundry. Look past the broken hearts of young children whose favorite things have been trod on and broken by scurrying feet that are undisciplined by the keeper of the home.  I’d like to look all the way inside my spirit as it sits unattended and unfulfilled during my laziness.

And there it lies, the very scene this proverb spoke of.  I see the thorns sprouting and covering over any beauty that once was.  I see the weeds poking through, disrupting the order that could still be.  The stone wall that Jesus so carefully guided me in erecting around my soul as a veritable fortress is crumbling.  Little bits of mortar have flaked off and lie sprinkled across the ground as stones begin to sag in defeat.  When this fortress of diligence was left unattended it began to break down.  And each day I choose to neglect it in favor of laziness, it crumbles a little more.

Building Back Up

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  We are so very blessed to serve a forgiving Savior.  Just as a parent continues to guide their child after making the same mistake over again, so the Lord guides us back to Him.  The beauty of my relationship with Jesus is that I can repent and be set right immediately.

My dear friend challenged herself, and I challenged myself to use August as a fast against laziness.  The premise was simple: As we looked through our days and saw ourselves doing something lazy in place of something useful, we would work to choose the useful thing instead.  The very first day that I woke up twenty minutes early and opened my Bible to spend some time with Him, my Savior began to trim back the thorns.  Throughout the day as I chose to be diligent in teaching my children the word and how to apply it, He began to pull the weeds.  As I went about my work within my home with a happy heart and a soul contented, He gently pushed back the sagging stones and patched up the holes.

The glory of my Savior can radiate through me when I have a firm foundation of discipline and diligence.  When I choose the next right thing to do at each turn of the day, I am blessed by my work and by His work through me.

Do you find your diligence slipping in your time with the Lord like I do?  Don’t despair!  It only takes one right choice to get back on track.

Can we pray for you today?

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