Category Archives: Faith & Inspiration

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener in Iowa

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I grew up in Iowa.  The heart of the Midwest.  It was comfortable and familiar.  Predictable.

It rains in the spring.  It’s hot in the summer.  The fall brings beautiful colors and cool breezes.  The winter lasts forever with lots of snow and hope for an early spring!

Every year it’s pretty much the same.  But it was HOME.

Everyone complains about the weather, regardless of where you live.  But, Iowa means so much more to me than just the weather.

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Wisdom From Proverbs

Wisdom From Proverbs

Sometimes you just don’t know where to start reading in the bible.  I know I’ve found myself holding it in my hands, looking down and thinking, “Filled with so much wisdom, where do I start?”

Well, how about starting in the book saturated with wisdom?

Yes, God’s book of Proverbs.

Solomon asked God for an understanding heart to judge the people to discern between good and evil.

God responded, of course, and gave Solomon a wise and discerning heart.

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Mommy Needs A Rest Time Too

Mommy Needs A Rest Time Too

Quiet time.  I am taking a little break in the midst of my day.  My children are resting.  I must rest too.  Even a few minutes can reset my calm button.  You know what I’m talking about!

So, I sit down with my bible to pour some life-giving truth deep into my heart.  God’s word is filled with SO MUCH!   Where do I start?  Which book do I read in?  It can be overwhelming sometimes to hold this 2000+ page book in your hands.  But, every morsel of God’s word is fit to satisfy our hungry souls.

Truly and honestly, turn to ANY page and it will fill up the God sized hole in your life.  His truth speaks from every word.  Every page. Every story.

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Am I Failing As A Mom?

Am I Failing As A Mom?

“Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Have you ever had one of THOSE days?

You know what I mean….where you could describe your day in one word–frazzled.

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What I Appreciate More About My Husband Since He’s Been Gone

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What I Didn’t Appreciate About My Husband Until He Was Gone

No, nothing has happened to my husband.  He is alive and well, safe and snug…in Georgia at a Christian men’s retreat.

Where there is no cell coverage and the only way I can contact him is by an emergency number if absolutely necessary.  In our 6 1/2 years of marriage, this is the first time we’ve been away from each other without any phone contact.  He has only been gone for 4 days.  It’s not like he’ll be away for weeks or months, which I’m thankful for.  But four days without my spouse has helped me to realize even more what I appreciate about him!

20 Things I Appreciate About My Husband

1. He always takes out the garbage.

2. He always brings the trash can back to the house (Can you tell I’m not one for liking the garbage?).

3. He changes the smoke alarm batteries.

4. He always helps with the kids baths at night.

5. He always helps put the kids to bed.

6. He mows the lawn.

7. He makes sure all the windows are closed before we go to sleep.

8. He makes sure the doors are all locked at night.

9. He always helps clean up the kitchen after dinner.

10. His arrival home after work gives us all something to look forward to every day.

11. I miss him playing with the kids while I’m finishing dinner.

12. He does all the watering outside (with our recycled tub and shower water of course-we are in a severe drought).

13. He plays with the kids.

14. He helps get everyone ready for church.

15. He always listens to me as I share the days events with him.

16. He fills the humidifier with water.

17. He always checks on the kids before we go to bed.

18. He helps get kids breakfast on the weekend.

19. We enjoy popcorn or ice cream together after the kids go to sleep.

20. He lays next to me every night….and so much more!!

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As I was getting ready for bed tonight, I just thought, “I don’t want to miss those things my husband does everyday in our family.  I want to be thankful for ALL he does for us and with us.  I don’t want to wait to be appreciative until he IS really gone someday.”

This isn’t about telling you all the wonderful things my husband does for me and the kids.  It’s about inviting YOU to be appreciative about the little things YOUR husband does for you and your family.

It’s about cultivating a thankful heart to recognize the blessings God has given you.

It’s about learning to express our gratitude to those we love.

Don’t wait until it’s something you would have liked to have said.  Say it now.  So, you’ll be sure he hears it today.

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What do you appreciate about YOUR husband? Have you told him lately? 


What Our Kids Really Need From Us

 

My daughter has been sick for several days, and she just wanted to lay in her bed all day and sleep.   As you know, for a two year old, that is very uncommon.  It has been a rough few days.  I was worried about her.  A headache and fever just make for a concerned mama.

When I went into her room to check on her one evening, she looked up at me from her crib with her sad eyes and said, “Mama, I just need you.”  Of course, I picked her up and rocked her.  As I held her close, she started to doze off, her eyes fluttering.  She would close them and after a short while, she’d look up at me with those sweet eyes that seemed to say, “Mama? Are you still there?”   I’d smile at her and then she’d doze back off again.  She just kept checking to see if I was there.

And again, the other night when I was laying beside her crib on the floor in the middle of the night when she didn’t feel well, she just kept peeking over the edge to make sure I was there.

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And I thought to myself…she just needs me.  That’s it.  She just needs me here beside her.

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So often we think our kids “need” so much.  So much stuff.  But, our kids don’t need extravagant things.  They need extravagant love.   And they need us…

1. To just be there
2. To help them
3. To smile at them
4. To encourage and lead them
5. To reach out and touch them
6. To pray with them
7. To believe in them
8. To teach them about God and His word
9. To introduce them to beauty in the world around them
10.To love them…unconditionally

Our kids really just need US.

I can remember after we had adopted Annabella and Gavin; Gavin was 14 months and Abba was 2 months at the time.  Someone said to me, “Just love them.”  Really?  Certainly they need so much more than that.  I made the beginning of my parenting much more difficult than I needed to.  Being a mommy is hard enough without the extra stress you place on yourself to be super mama!

I tried SO VERY HARD.

I was exhausted.

From lack of sleep of course, but also emotionally from putting too much pressure on myself.

I certainly don’t have motherhood figured out.  Nor will I ever!  But after almost 3 years and 3 babies later, I’m learning to lighten up on myself.  To relax a little bit.  To not try to do it all.  Be it all.  Or give them everything.  I don’t need to make them into perfect children.  I don’t need to impress anyone.  I don’t need to make myself look like a good mom.

I need to enjoy them.  To embrace them.  To embrace mommy-hood.  To just nurture the relationships I am developing with these three precious children God has given me.  They just need ME.  I will fail in many areas of motherhood according to the world’s standards.

But God’s word tells me in Romans 12:2 ” Do not be conformed to this world, Alissa, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”  

I have an audience of one.  I am to mother according to the will of God for our family- that which is good and acceptable and perfect-not according to the world.  I am learning that as I trust God and focus my attention and intention on serving Him, my perspective on being a mom is changing.  For the better.  Praise God for His transforming power!  Praise God for His Holy Spirit!

And the fruit of the Spirit is just that…fruit.  As I rest in God, and allow His Holy Spirit to work in and through me, He alone will produce the fruit of His spirit in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.  Praise God that I don’t have to produce these on my own.  As I walk more closely with the Spirit, He will naturally develop these characteristics in me as a mom.  Thankfully as I continue to grow, my children will continue to grow, my marriage will continue to grow and we will become a family that bears good fruit.  And isn’t that what it’s about?

Becoming all God intends for us to become.  “So that we may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that we will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9-10)”

We need to start with the end in sight.  What is your vision for your family?  When we see it from God’s perspective, it changes how we look at our days.  If I am to give extravagant love to my children, then I must first experience extravagant love from a God who adores me.  We can only give what we have been given.  As you are singing your babies to sleep tonight, take to heart what you may be singing…Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.  Jesus loves YOU.  Oh, the beautiful simplicity of this song.  Oh, the beautiful simplicity of our children!

So moms, rest easy tonight.  Keep it simple!  Your children don’t need much.

They need YOU.

They need God.

They need you to lead them and to love them.  It seems too easy, doesn’t it?

Well, being a mom isn’t easy, but when we get our priorities in alignment, simplify and renew our minds and let God have control, we will spend less time stressed out and more time enjoying the journey.

 


Are You Listening To God?

Are You Listening To God?“Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil.” Ecclesiastes 5:1

Listen.

Do you hear the Lord?  He is speaking.  Are you listening?  Am I listening? Do I hear Him?  I was reading this verse in Ecclesiastes this morning.  I love Ecclesiastes, especially chapter five.  And this morning it spoke to my heart…again.

Read this verse again.

“Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil.” Ecclesiastes 5:1

Am I doing evil and not knowing it?  Am I a fool?  Do you see it?  I am to draw near to the Lord to listen.  Anything else is foolish, evil.  Honestly, I talk to God way more than I listen.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Communication is two sided.  Relationships must involve both partners.  It is clearly important for us to share our thoughts, words, needs before God.  He specifically tells us in John 14:13-14 to ask Jesus anything!  So he values our desires and words placed at his alter.  But, how can I really know my husband if all I do is talk to him and rarely listen?  (This was convicting for me…as I do most of the talking in our relationship.  If you are a woman, I bet you do too!)  How can I know my friend if all I do is talk about me and what’s going on in my life?  How can I know God if all I do is tell him what I want and about my issues?  Wow.  Did that hit home for you?  Because it sure did for me.  Really…my life isn’t all about getting my wants and needs heard.  It isn’t all about telling others about “me”.  Honestly, I’m tired of “me”.  I’m tired of talking about what I want and need.  Truth is…life isn’t about me.  At all.  It’s about God.  So, does this verse make sense to you?  Quit being foolish and draw near to God to listen.  Let’s read the rest of the story.

Ecclesiastes 5:2-3, 6-7 “Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God.  For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.  For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words.  6Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake  Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hand?  For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness.  Rather, fear God.”

I highlighted what God is telling me.  Basically, “Quit talking Alissa.  Let your words be few.  There is emptiness in many words.  FEAR GOD! Fools use many words.  The wise fear God.”  I don’t think God is telling me to quit talking altogether, but I’m reminded that I like to talk more than I like to listen.  Is it any wonder that in kindergarten my report card said, “Alissa likes to talk.  She has a hard time listening. ”  True story!  I believe God gave me this gift of words!  But, as with all gifts, we must learn to use them well, for His glory! And the reality is that it is more important to listen to God than to tell Him constantly what I need.  He already knows.  I tell him I want His will, but how can I know it if i’m always the one talking?  “Listen to me.  Listen to my word.”  I repeatedly ask my children, “Are you listening?”  Today, God asked me the same.  Are you listening to me Alissa?

Are you listening to God?

Lord, show me my evil and rebellious ways!  Show me how I am more interested in what I have to say, than what You have to say!  Lord, I thank you for your truth spoken to my soul.  Reading this verse this morning brought light to day.  There clearly was an illumination of God’s will for my life.

Did you hear him speak to your weary soul? Are you seeking God’s will for your life?  Are you listening to Him?

God’s will means following God… even through things I wouldn’t have chosen for myself.  But he promises that with Him my yoke will be light (Matt 11:29).

I either believe His promises or …

…I don’t.

Do you want to know God’s will?  Do you want to follow God?  Then your answer must be a resounding, YES!  Yes, I will follow You, God!

Am I listening for His instruction?  For direction?  I must listen more than I speak if I am to know the will of God.

Luke 10:37 says in speaking of the Samaritan man who helped his neighbor, “And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.”  Go and do the same.”

God’s commands usually start with a verb.  God sets us up with an impactful story, a message that hits home.  Then he says “do something”.   Go is one of those verbs.  He doesn’t just tell us to stay where you are and do what you can for me.  He says, “Go!”  Get up.  Do the business of God.  If you are waiting for God’s command on your life, do a word search on “go” in the bible.  God’s people didn’t stay put.  They listened.  They went.  They did something.  They did God’s work.

Then I read Luke 10:39, “She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet listening to His word.”  The rest of the chapter, as many of you know, is contrasting Martha’s doing with Mary’s sitting.  Jesus tells Martha in verse 41, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Which is it Lord?  Sitting or going?  How can we do both?  Well, it’s not either/or.  It’s both.  But, like Martha, we get it mixed up.  We set out on the going and then when we get lost, or distracted, or frustrated, and so we stop and ask God to help us when we didn’t ask for his guidance in the first place.  God clearly tells us to “sit before the Lord” before we go, before we do…anything.  Oh, Lord.  How I am so guilty of this!  I jump out of bed in the morning on mission to get “stuff” done, to do the things that are before me, that are for –me.  Then at the end of the day, I wonder why I’m feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.  I wonder, “Why don’t I feel His Holy Spirit working in my life?  Why isn’t God changing me?”

Verse 39 says it all–Listen to His word.

Oh, yeah…what did Ecclesiastes tell me this morning?  Draw near to listen to His word.  Seriously.  I laid flat on my face this morning in my closet and just asked the Lord to lead me as I read His word.  He clearly gave me each of these verses.  Is it any wonder that they are linked together.  Do you ever read God’s word and think,” Wow! Those verses are in total alignment with each other!  And completely apply to my life!”  Well, that is the power of God’s word.

 If you aren’t completely overwhelmed with how God is working in your life, then maybe it’s because you aren’t listening.

I need to listen more than I talk.  Spend more time reading God’s word.  Listen for His instruction.  I must pay close attention and set my eyes on Jesus and then I will see God more in the midst of my days.  If I’m not seeing or hearing from God–it’s because I’m not listening.  I’m not looking for Him.  Because friends, He is there.  Always.  Everyday.  He has never left us.  I’ve just been like Martha and crowded Him out with my to-do list, my “preparations”.  I’m always “getting stuff done” so I will have more time.  And yet, time is slipping away while I am constantly “preparing”.  My kids will grow up.  My marriage will slip away.  The people in my life that don’t know Jesus are growing farther away from God.  My relationships will wither.  My life will move forward while I’m busy doing my own work.  What will I miss in my busyness?

If I’m going to set my heart to follow God, to live differently, then I must set my heart on listening to God.  Listening for Him in my day.  Learning from His word and trusting Him with my life.  I must make the sacrifice to do what He is asking me to do.  Living differently is about sacrifice.  Sacrificing my needs and wants for God’s.

If my heart is set on me, my answer will always be ‘no’.  But if my heart is set on God,                                               my answer will always be a resounding ‘yes!’.

Make my heart and mind match up with yours, oh, Lord, and help me to see that “Only one thing is necessary, that I have chosen the good part which shall not be taken away from me.” (Luke 10:39)  Amen.

Are you listening to God?  What is His word speaking to you?  If you aren’t hearing from God, how is the busyness of life interfering with the most important relationship you will ever know?  

 


Freedom to Live

“Death is Nature’s way to remedy all things.”–A Tale of Two Cities

I read that today while reading the book A Tale of Two Cities.  I just sort of camped out on that sentence.  I read it and reread it.  It sounds like a solution.  But as I read it, I was struck with sadness.  Death is indeed a fact.  An inevitable truth.  It is assured to each and every one of us.  Every single one of us will come to a moment in our lives, when we will face death square in the face.  Our pastor said yesterday: “Death is the most certain thing there is.  The time of our death is the most uncertain thing there is.”  So true.  I think we all take for granted that our lives here on this earth are unlimited.  We live as if we have an abundance of time.  We don’t.  I don’t.  You don’t.  Today, I have one less day to live my life than I did yesterday.  We are all alive, but are we truly living?  What does that even mean?  What does it mean to live fully alive?  To embrace our days, our lives with fullness?

As I sat there reading this sentence, I just thought it shameful to believe that death is the cure for all things.  But as I looked at it from Truth’s perspective, I saw this…

Christ’s Death is God’s redemption for all!–The Bible

"Image courtesy of africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Image courtesy of africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Death isn’t a remedy.  It’s a consequence.  A consequence of sin.

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Through Christ’s death, we have life! Jesus Christ defeated death and rose from the grave.  It is through his sacrifice we have forgiveness for our sins and abundance as His children!

Romans 6:4 “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

The goal of our lives is not to live life and then die.  Our heavenly Father’s plan for us is to die to ourselves, die to our sin, so that we can truly live!

Romans 6:6 “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin–because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”

His death gives us freedom.  Freedom from sin.  Freedom from death.  Freedom to fully live!

Do you know this freedom?  This freedom from God through His son Jesus Christ?  The freedom that saves you from eternal separation from the God who adores you?

Romans 10:9 “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Death is not the end of all things.  Death, for believers in Jesus Christ, is just the beginning of an eternal life with our Lord.

Romans 10:13 “For , “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Do you know your Lord?  Do you know Jesus Christ?  Have you believed in His Great name?

My prayer for you today on Easter is that you will experience all that God has given you through Jesus Christ.  His grace, His forgiveness, His salvation.  Jesus Christ is ALIVE!  And through Him, that you would find freedom to live.

Happy Easter!


Making Room for Us: The Importance of Managing the Stuff Monster

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Last weekend some friends came down to visit.  I was standing in the kitchen busy doing something, when Gavin asked me for help.  My quick response, “Just a minute buddy, mommy has to…and then I paused.  But, with saddened eyes and a low tone he filled in the blank for me, “do stuff?”

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Really.  That is what he thinks I do.  Stuff.  But at that moment it hit me.  I DO STUFF.  Not only do I DO stuff, I have too much stuff.  I spend more of my time managing my STUFF than I do enjoying the people around me.  Now, don’t get me wrong, as mamas we have a lot of “stuff” to do.  We are managing an entire household and all the people in it and raising a generation of future leaders, encouragers, lovers and, by God’s grace…believers!  We have A LOT on our plates.

But, is the “stuff” in our lives, taking priority?  It was like a lightbulb came on for me.  I’m tired of moving stuff, managing stuff, putting away stuff.  I decided that I’m tired of talking about how much “stuff” I have to do and instead I’m going to start eliminating some of the unnecessary “stuff” in my life.  And isn’t that the reality?  Much of our “stuff” is NOT necessary.  I am putting on a new pair of lenses.  I have been praying for God to give me new vision for what is important and what is not in my home and in my life.

I want to LIVE DIFFERENTLY.

Today and forever.  I want to be that person, be that family that others see as “different” and that God sees as being obedient.  I want to enjoy my children, spending time with them, being creative with them, helping them to see the genuine, God created beauty in this world and not be consumed with products and materialism.

They already at 2 and 3 have a well developed “wanter”: “Mama, I want that!  I want a new batman house!  I want a batman cape!  I want that… (any toy they see at Target)!”  They are foolish, just as we are.  They have learned that when you want something, you get it.  I honestly believe we are all born with a “wanter”.  It’s always been there.  But just like any sinful part of our nature, we must learn to control it.  But sadly, they are imitators.  They watch our behavior.  They learn from watching us.

Do we have our “wanters” in check?  Or are we guilty of feeling like we have to get what we want.  For most of us, life in America isn’t about getting what we need, it’s about getting what we want.  And sadly, we generally feel entitled to get what we want.  What we don’t realize is we have masked the lie by slightly changing the words.  Instead of “I WANT a new TV”, we say, ” I NEED a new TV”.  We have convinced ourselves that our wants are indeed needs that need to be met.

Oh, how sad a generation that we have created.  I am as guilty as everyone.  I enjoy being comfortable and running to Target is way too easy to buy what I “need”.  But when I walk out of Target and spend $100 every time I visit, am I really just feeding my “wanter”?  Because the truth is, the more we have, the more we want.  There is always some new gadget or item that will make our lives easier, less stressful, and more comfortable.  So then, after we have accumulated all these gadgets, why aren’t our lives any easier, less stressful or more comfortable?

So, my mission is to live differently.  What does that look like for me?  For my family?  It looks, well,……different.  In so many areas of my life.  Praise God He isn’t changing me all at once.  Whew!  Thankfully He works on us with love and grace and equips us to pursue the life HE desires for us, the life that we were meant to live.

So, I am waging war with the stuff monster that has invaded my home.  It has been keeping me hostage with busyness and spinning my wheels for so long, it’s grown to a pretty good size.  But, if not now, when?

So, my first battle…the toy department that has overtaken my house.  Now, let me be very clear, I have nothing against toys, but we my children live with excess.  I’ve tried to decrease the toy inventory in our home in the past, but honestly, I have become more attached to their toys than they have.  I always feel guilty.  But after last weekend, the light came on and I knew it was time.  No, I didn’t get rid of all their toys.  They still have more than I think they need, but I took probably 1/3 of their toys upstairs.  It’s been almost a week.  Do you think they have missed them or even noticed they are gone?  Nope.  Not one comment about a missing toy.  I honestly haven’t decided yet whether to just get rid of them or rotate them with the ones that remain.  I’ll probably do a little of both.

The reality: Toys are not important to our children.  We are.  Those precious cherubs will always ask for more things, but they really are craving and needing more time with us.  Now, as a mom we cannot, nor should we spend every waking hour  with our children.  They need independence and play time away from us for sure.  Nor do we cater to their every demand when they verbalize their immediate needs.  But for me, my “stuff” was keeping me stressed and constantly mentally focused on what needed to be done.  When I was playing with kids, it was because I was taking a break from doing my “stuff”.  My main objective seems to be my to-do list.  My ever growing to-do list.  The to-do list will ALWAYS be there.  Always.  And forever, I might add.  But my children will not.  Someone reminded me today as her son was getting ready to graduate from college that my children will be gone sooner than I can even imagine.  I don’t want to miss these moments.  I don’t want to look back and think, “Wow, I just lived stressed out and never caught up and focused on the wrong moments.”

And let me assure you this definitely isn’t about removing toys so I can have a spotless house.  I’m not interested in that.  Really.  I have three children age 3 and under.  My house will never be spotless.  My house will never be completely picked up.  Thank goodness.  I have children!! I want my children to be creative and use our home in that process.  I want them to drag their boxes around and play pretend.  I want our house to be THEIR HOME, for their enjoyment and growth.

My objective is to remove the “stuff” so that we can make room for us.  I have been emotionally pushing the most important people in my life to the side, so “stuff” can take priority.  And I keep doing it.  Isn’t that the definition of insanity?  To keep doing the same thing and expect different results?

I have a framed copy of our family mission statement on our wall and it says this:

The Perez Family Purpose Statement

We will trust God and make people and relationships more important than accomplishing tasks.

God has called us to make people important.  What God says is important.   I am on a mission to remove the clutter, the “stuff”, to make room in our home for the people that God placed here.  Why go to the effort of creating and displaying a purpose statement if I’m not going to live it?  Why claim to believe in a God who is loving and gracious, if I don’t show it?  Why pray for children, if I’m not going to be fully present to enjoy them? One word: hypocrisy.  Ouch.

From our front porch you can see the beautiful Texas sunsets.  Last night we sat on our front step and watched the sun go down.  It was a beautiful, peaceful moment.  The kids were running around us just laughing and playing.  Then they sat in our laps and just snuggled into our arms.  And as I held them close and looked out over the setting golden sun, God gently whispered in my heart…THIS is what is important.  Make room for this.  I looked down at their beautiful, smiling eyes.  I’m sure I heard from their hearts…Make room for us.  

How has “stuff” taken over in your home?  Please help me and share what you have done to make room for your family!  I look forward to hearing how God has been touching your hearts!


10 Reasons Why Isolation Will Defeat You

10 Reasons Why Isolation Will Defeat You

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

I clearly remember sitting on my bed, tears pouring down my face.  I was exhausted emotionally and physically.  Two months prior I was confronted, actually blindsided, with the possibility that I was going to be unable to birth my own children.  Now, as I lay face down on my bed, that possibility had become a likely reality.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to adopt.  I knew, even before I became a follower of Jesus Christ, that I was being led to adopt children.  And when this life changing news came to us, we were already starting the process to adopt a baby through our local Christian adoption agency.  But there is something inside most women that just kind of expects to be able to get pregnant and give birth to their own biological child.  I believe it is a desire God has naturally given us women.  He created us to be fruitful and multiply.  He created us to be caring, loving and nurturing.  He created us to care for, love and nurture a child.  That desire has been growing inside of me for many years and finally, I was ready to make it come true.

Did you catch that?

I was ready.  But God said….not yet.

But sadly, I wasn’t in a place to hear “not yet”.  I heard a BIG, FAT “NO!”

I was devastated.  I was angry.  I was beside myself.  There was nothing I could do.  This was completely out of my control.

And sadly, instead of seeking God, I retreated into myself.

It saddens me to look back on this time of my life.  It was a very lonely time.  Yes, my husband tried to help me.  He comforted me and tried to give me my space and time to grieve.  But I still felt very alone.

I was ready to have a baby.  It seemed that ALL of my friends were getting pregnant and having babies.  I think everyone in my town was pregnant right then.  Or so it seemed.  I wish I could have said that my first instinct was to run to God and seek His face, His word.  To be strengthened by His love and strength.  To be encouraged and find hope in His plan for my life.  Wouldn’t that have been great?

But the reality is, I turned away.  Not forever, but for a season.  And I believe God knows this can and will happen.  We are so overcome with grief and sadness that we turn away from anything good.  We become filled with despair and our hope we once had, starts to fade.  And as we sink into a deep pit that seems to grow larger with every passing day, it becomes harder and harder to come out of it.  And then, one day, we look around us and we have literally pulled away from everyone.  Everyone that loves us and wants to help us.  They really don’t know what to say.  They don’t know how to help.  So this chasm develops between us and those that are trying to love us.

We have completely isolated ourselves.

And inside our isolation, we have convinced ourselves that this is where we should be.  We believe somehow, that this is reality.  No one can help.  No one understands.

And if we stay there long enough, we start to believe that no one cares.  That we don’t matter anymore.  That this is our new normal.  We begin the work of building those walls around us, so that even as we may have to enter back into this world, we can keep people out, can keep ourselves in.

Isolation slowly defeats and can eventually destroys…you and your relationships.

Isolation is the act of isolating something, a state of separation between people, a feeling of being disliked or alone.

You don’t have to be locked up in a room somewhere for years to be isolated from others.  We can lock ourselves out right in the midst of the ones we love.

Isolation defeats.

You and I were made for relationship with others!  We were never meant to be alone, nor to carry the burdens of this world on our own.

I am sad when I look back to the beginning of our infertility journey.   I wish I wouldn’t have isolated myself from the ones I love.  I am sad because I thought I could handle it myself.  The truth…I couldn’t.  I didn’t.  I didn’t grow in my relationships through this struggle, I grew farther apart from the ones I loved.  I wish I would have let them into my heart.  There were a few who may have known the external reality of what was going on in my life.  But I didn’t share any of it with my family, those that God created to be the closest to me.  Did I want to protect them from being sad?  Did I want to not have to be reminded of the heartache of not being able to have a baby myself?  If I didn’t tell anyone, then I didn’t have to talk about it every time I spoke to them.  Was I preventing them from having to worry about me?

I don’t really know.  But I have learned that isolation from others will eventually defeat us.

Our natural inclination when we go through disappointments, struggles and pain is to pull away.

But here are…

 10 reasons why isolation will defeat you.

1. Isolation breeds hopelessness.

2. Isolation leads to selfishness.

3. Isolation turns away from God.

4. Isolation loves misery.

5. Isolation thrives on disappointment and defeat.

6. Isolation says “you are all alone”.

7. Isolation discourages.

8. Isolation damages relationships.

9. Isolation emphasizes disappointment.

10. Isolation can lead to depression and anxiety.

Truth: Isolation will do nothing for you.  It will only defeat you.  Can you identify with any of these? 

For me, it’s easier to pull away during times of stress.  But I’m learning over the past several years, that I NEED people.  I need others to encourage me and point me back to the God who loves me and never leaves me.  I have felt defeated.  I have felt like my life was over, that my life was going to stay in the pit.  I have learned from experience the effects of isolating myself.  And so, may I remind you to reach your hand out, share your struggles, be vulnerable, ask for help, ask for prayers, allow people to walk beside you, let others into your world.

And most importantly, please don’t pull away from God.  He loves you.  He longs to restore what is broken in your life.  Why did I choose the word defeat?  Well, to defeat something is to “thwart the plans of”.  To thwart is “to hinder or prevent the efforts, plans or desires of”.   Satan uses isolation to defeat us, to prevent the efforts and plans of God.  When we walk through trials, it is not without God’s almighty power.  We may never understand the “why” of our circumstance, but we can always trust that God has a plan and will bring about good in the midst of our life struggles.

Genesis 3:9 (MSG) God called to the man: “Where are you?”  

If you are sitting in the midst of isolation right now, imagine God speaking to your heart, “Where are you?”  He wants you to come out.  He’s calling you.  He’s drawing you to himself.  He wants you to be known.  You are important.  Come back and be found.

We also need to spur one another on toward God, who can and will fill us up and bring restoration to our broken lives.  Be someone’s cheerleader.  If you know a friend who is pulling away and you don’t know what to say or how to fix it…you’re in luck.  Our God does know!  Listen.  Encourage.  Pray. And remind them Who God Is!  

1 Thes 5:11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

And never, ever believe them when they tell you they just don’t need anyone.  They do.  And they will be grateful for your love and persistence.

Have you ever isolated yourself during one of life’s trials?  How have you felt defeated by isolation?