I Saw My Daughter Practicing One of My Bad Habits

Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD….(Psalm 102:18)

The other day I noticed my daughter practicing one of my bad habits. It’s one of those habits I’ve tried to break at different times over the years but never really was able to. I can’t say I’ve worked all that hard on it in recent years, but wow, when I saw her copying me, something inside of me hit like a ton of bricks as I told myself, “I’m done. I can’t pass this bad habit onto her. It’s time to stop.”

It’s been a few days and I haven’t been practicing this bad habit of mine, because what’s motivating me is keeping me from doing it. Had my daughter not started to do it herself I’d probably just continue on with my own bad habit, but I have been praying, since she was born that I would work hard on myself so that I wouldn’t pass along the parts of me that would not be most beneficial for her. I know that’s nearly impossible to do, as a flawed human being, but I want to take seriously my own issues so they don’t latch onto her.

I am keenly aware that my sins, not just my bad habits can find their way into her life too. I have prayed since she was born that I might take my sin so seriously that she would see mommy repenting more than she would see me practicing sin.

One of the most redemptive things for our children too witness is for us to come to God in humility as we cry out for His grace, seeking freedom from things like vanity, gluttony, fear, pride, control and the like.

So today, dear friend, wherever life finds you, there’s a little one watching you and they’re waiting for you to show them the way to freedom, not continue to stay stuck in the place of bondage that could get passed onto them.

Lord, I need you. Not just because I don’t want to pass sinful behaviors onto my daughter, but because I want to be like Jesus. Help me to be like Him today, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

When Other People Got Picked Over You

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose….(Romans 8:28)

Today I let something go that I have been holding onto for quite a while. I finally realized that this wish I had was keeping me stuck. It was making it nearly impossible for me to find joy, peace and purpose in my current circumstances. After all, I felt like God owed me this one. People should see that I’m be great for this, so why aren’t they siding with my opinion?

Have you ever done that? Gotten mad at God and others, hanging onto what you thought you deserved because you felt like you were supposed to be the one. You can’t seem to let go of that old dating relationship, the job you applied for and didn’t get, the house you always dreamed of that you got outbid on, the money you should be making, because you deserved the raise and not them.

Friend, that mentality in life just keeps us stuck. We cannot ever live freely with God if we choose to live in that place. We will always be indirectly mad at God and directly mad at others- the ones who did get chosen over us. The person who’s living the life we want now, enjoying the home we should have had or the job we think we deserved more than them. Those are the people we’ll be mad at simply because we just can’t seem to let things go and trust in God’s plan.

If I’m being honest, part of me felt like this was supposed to be part of God’s redemption in my life. God was supposed to work for me in this way because it would prove something that I needed proved from my past. It would make me feel better and more validated. Friend, we’ve got to let that go too. Our past, present and future lies in God’s hands and He’ll go about redeeming it how He wants. Until we choose to let go of things like: wanting other people to see that we have arrived, “We’re OK without them,” or “Wow, look at us now,” we’ll never live fully into the place God has asked us to live today.

I’m just saying that because I feel it. I feel it all the time and so today, I’m letting go and choosing to be thankful for the place God has me and for the people He picked over me, because friend, His plan is good and for that we reason, we can praise Him in the midst of it, even today.

Lord, your plan is good. Forgive me when I try to tell you how you’re supposed to be working in my life. I surrender each part to you now. I let it all go, in Jesus name, Amen.

There’s Something Good in the Waiting

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines……..yet I will exult in the LORD; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! (Habakkuk 3:17,18)

Have you ever been waiting for God to do something with great expectation, but the more you wait it seems like nothing happens? That’s when all my buttons of insecurity start to run on high alert as the Lord starts to test my willingness to wait and not just wait, but wait with joy.

I can’t say I’ve always done that well. The whole waiting with joy part. I struggle sitting still because part of me feels like maybe I’m not doing enough if life isn’t moving at the pace I like. I sometimes expect the Lord to move at that same pace for me. As you can imagine, this makes me become discouraged by what I feel like He should be doing for me.

But friend, the Lord invites us into a love relationship of trust. A relationship in which He is tremendously faithful. As I have grown, I have learned how to sing a different song in my heart, so instead of saying, “Lord, why aren’t you working?!? I have chosen to say, “I trust you and know that you’re just working out something better that I can’t see right now.”

I certainly can’t say I always do that well, sometimes I revert back to my immature state of discouragement with God, but I have learned with every valley comes His grace and goodness and with every setback, victory awaits us if we would just hold fast to what is true of Him, not what our feelings tells us to believe.

Lord, why would I ever doubt your goodness. You are so very kind. I trust you and rejoice in these periods of waiting, in Jesus name, Amen.

Your Pain Can Become Part of Your Purpose

Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds…(Micah 2:1)

What you do with your pain will chart the path for your life’s purpose. If you take your pain, bury it, blast it on social media trying to get people to like you and side with you, your pain will drown you instead of drive you towards the cross.

Friend, life is hard. We get hurt along the way, but if we choose to bury it instead of bless those around us, even those who hurt us, we will stay hidden in the holes we’ve dug for ourselves, living shallow and unconvincing lives.

Many of us in the church, myself included have been so shallow that we don’t actually share what’s really going on, but have you ever been around someone who got real? It was like everything in the room stopped because the room now became a sacred place of purpose. That’s what happens when we allow our pain to become part of our purpose. It unites us with others. It doesn’t grow roots of bitterness in us, no, it creates space for people to come and share the same journey and know that God can heal them too, just as He is healing us.

Lord, may my life draw others to you. I don’t want to live a shallow life. I want to live an authentic life of purpose and peace, in Jesus name, Amen.

The Sound of The Train

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope….(Psalm 130:5)

My daughter is a bit obsessed with trains. We live near the train tracks that run adjacent to the river here in the Quad Cities. Every time she hears the sound of the train she insists that she MUST go and see it.

The problem is, the train runs on the other side of the river too and sometimes that train sound is coming from a train we can’t see on the other side of the river. We don’t live close enough to be able to get ourselves down to the river before the train passes on the other side. She becomes angry and indignant because she can’t see the train. We have tried to explain to her that it’s on the other side, but she still desperately begs for us to help her, “find the train.”

There are moments when we get to celebrate together because we do in fact get to see the train. We’ve started to recognize it’s sound a little better when its running on our side of the river. Therefore, when that sound comes, we go running so that we can find the train.

Have you ever hoped and wanted every move of God to be about and for you? I have. I see God moving for others, for my church or whoever else and I think, but what about me? When is my gift coming? Why don’t I get to see the “train” of your outpouring and blessing on my life? But friend, sometimes that move of God, the sound of Him working, isn’t for us. It’s for people on the other side of the river. Our time will come, but we must learn how to rejoice for others when His move just isn’t for us.

After all, life with God is all about learning how to live in community. Jesus found himself in a robust and lively community in the first century. With a people whose lives centered around it. We too should seek to be apart of something bigger so that when the train comes, whether on our side or not, we can rejoice for those it has come to.

Lord, thank you that every train isn’t for me. Sometimes its for others and for that I can rejoice. Forgive me when I get so focused on thinking about myself that I forget to praise you for the work you’re doing in my life, in Jesus name, Amen.

My Spouse Finally Heard Me

Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them…(Psalm 126:6)

Yesterday I had a hard but really good conversation with my husband. I tend to shy away from those, because I haven’t always done those well in the past. I have a hard time allowing people to see me vulnerable. Instead, I’ll come across as critical and needy instead of humble and vulnerable.

Although the conversation was hard, my husband heard me. I can’t help but think that maybe he finally heard me because instead of approaching him with criticism, I brought him my heart. Whew, that’s hard for me to do. It really is. It just isn’t second nature for me; being vulnerable, tender and humble with my husband.

Friend, I get it, you feel tired by things. You don’t want to keep pursuing and praying, because you just don’t see God’s hand working. I felt this way in this area with my husband. I really did and part of me just told myself, “Just stop caring, this is just how its going to be, so just get used to it.”

But friend, that type of mentality limits God and it stifles intimacy with the loved one you need to have that hard conversation with too. Maybe they’re not hearing you, because, just like me, your approach has been wrong. But the more we pray and believe in faith, the more we change too. Truth is, I need to change too so that my husband can hear me. I’ve realized that my prayers for deeper intimacy with my husband can’t just be all about, “Lord, change him.” No, they have to be just as much about me too.

So friend, if you feel discouraged, don’t give up praying. Ask for a heart of humility and for a willingness to see your own sin first. Because you see, yesterday, when I had this conversation with my husband it started with me admitting my faults and asking for his forgiveness first. Be the one to go first and watch God work as He answers your prayers when you’re willing to go to hard places.

Lord, this life journey, especially things like marriage are a constant reminder to me about my deep need for your grace. I need more humility and patience. I need more tenderness and vulnerability with my husband. I can only do that through your love in Jesus name, Amen.

Let Him Feed You There

How then can the Lord pasture them like lambs in a meadowHosea 4:16

Friend, sometimes the plan doesn’t involve you. I know you want it to. I get that. I have desperately wanted the plan to involve me too. But the harder we try to make a square peg fit into a round hole, the angrier we’ll become at those for whom the plan is actually working. You’ll come up with every working way to blame them for why things just aren’t working out for you in this place, but friend, maybe it’s not time for you to flourish in the field right now. Maybe this place you keep inserting yourself, hoping to be seen and picked by others is not your place to shine for Jesus.

Can I just say, this is a hard reality for me to accept. I want to be seen and picked out from the crowd. I want others to see my gifts, employ them and shoot me forth and if I’m being honest, in my pride, I feel like they should. The hard truth that I’m slowly accepting is that there are some places God sends us to feed sheep, then there are moments when he simply asks us to be still and let Him feed us.

I don’t like it when God does that in my life, because I want to feed sheep. I have a hard time accepting certain seasons when I have to take a step back and let Him feed me in one sheepfold because there’s another fold He wants me to be fruitful in.

So friend, wherever you find yourself today, feed the sheep in your little pasture. I get it, it feels small and insignificant, but it’s not. Don’t get mad at the ones who are prospering in the sheepfold you want to be fruitful in. Support that fold and be willing to not have an important role to play in it, but support and encourage those who do. Your time will come, but first, you have to let the Good Shepherd feed you. You must be willing to rest, wait and let the Lord care for you and maybe you’ll have fruit to bear in that field and maybe you won’t. Either way, there’s a fold somewhere out there where you will, so embrace that one with joy and be willing to let go of your expectations of all the others.

Lord, I will rise up on eagles wings. I will triumph over my enemies. Truly, you make me like a strong tower. You call me forth. I want to shine for you. I want to be so patient and humble in every place you find me in that I would accept the role you have for me, in Jesus name, Amen.

Waiting on God Is Not My Favorite

I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope….(Psalm 130:5)

I don’t really like waiting on God. I like to watch Him work on my behalf, yes, but I do not enjoy the process of waiting. All of it makes me uncomfortable. For some reason, in the waiting, instead of rejoicing and being happy for where I am, I’ll mull over all the wrongs that I feel have been done that got me here.

Friend, it’s hard to rejoice when you take the past and make it your present reality. At least, that’s what I’m learning.

You see, free hearts, ready to receive God’s very best don’t wish they could be doing something else. The love the place their in because God is with them in it. If I’m being honest, that’s a hard truth for me to live in most days. But God knows me best. He knows I need boundaries because without them I’d try flying much too high and trying far too much.

So if you’re like me, waiting on God, but sometimes wishing you were somewhere else, choose to receive this current place your in with joy. You’ll find HIs presence with you when you do.

Lord, forgive me for my impatience. I want to be like you. Grow me in Christ-likeness, each day, I pray in Jesus name, Amen.

When You Start To Think And Act Like Him

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did….(1 John 2:6)

My daughter has started acting like me. Repeating my little phrases and picking up on the little things that I do. Which makes sense, because she spends so much time with me here at home. We’re almost always together. Playing, dancing, singing, and eating. These are moments I treasure and I know she does too. I keep praying the good parts of me rub off on her. I have had a couple moments this past week when I let anger get the best of me and I had to apologize to her for how I reacted.

I wonder how many of us, myself included, are becoming more like Jesus, so much so that we start to pick up on the little things He does; His grace, His forgiveness, His perseverance and love. You see, the more time I spend at home with Jesus the more space I have created in my life to hear from Him and be changed by His presence.

There are some days when I know I just need a day at home with my girl. It’s not a day for us to get out, hop in the car and go somewhere. It’s a day for us to be still, stay close to home and simply be at rest. That’s hard for someone like me who loves being on the go. But it’s teaching me the value of being more present, a little less busy and those are the days when I feel very connected to my child.

Some of us need that rest with Jesus. If we truly want to become like Him, it just can’t happen without spending more time at home with Jesus. Our transformation will stifle if we don’t learn to simply be with Him at home in His heart. I’m still learning what this means, as I tend to be too busy. Yet, I want to walk as He did and I know this happens through my communion with Him as I learn the value of rest as I delight in the simplicity of His presence.

Lord, I want to walk as Jesus walked. I pray that my time spent with you would accomplish all of that. Change me, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Fearing What The Future Holds

The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale….(Dan 5:5-6)

The King of Babylon would receive a message of judgement from the hand that wrote on the wall. He had no reason to have confidence that this message was for his good. After all, he didn’t follow the one true God. He worshipped images made by human hands. Images that hold no real divine hope, joy or power.

The handwriting on the wall would soon be interpreted by Daniel. A man close to God. A man who had reason to believe that His future was secure because of his trust in Yahweh.

If I’m being honest, sometimes I feel like the King of Babylon, so afraid of what the next message in my life might say that I try to avoid it because why try I ask myself? It’s just going to go bad for me. Obviously, this type of mentality gets me stuck fairly often. I become too paralyzed to make decisions because I’m fearful I’ll make the wrong one because I’ve been telling myself if I pull the trigger on this one all the cards are going to fall and not in my favor.

Lord, forgive me.

Friends, if we are in Christ, we have good things in store for us from God’s hands. He wants to bless us and give us good things. He’s not waiting for us to finally pull the trigger on some decision so that He can pull the rug out from under our feet.

He’s waiting for us to trust Him. To trust Him to come through for us as we walk by faith. Friend, God will always take care of you. He’s your papa, you’re good father who would never leave you. Remember that you are his child and just as you would never let your child go without, God wouldn’t let you go without what you need either. All you have to do is walk by faith and trust Him. He’ll take care of the rest.

Lord, I’m not sure where this fear comes from in my life. Forgive me for clinging to it and it’s message instead of clinging to you and yours. Be my hope, each day, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.