“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
“But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.” Psalm 73:28
Today I’m putting on my big girl pants and going. A week ago I made a call I’ve dreaded for months. You know exactly what I mean, we have all made one of those calls before...or maybe you’re still waiting. Whether it was a doctor call, a relationship call, a job call or a call for help. It’s the thing you’ve put off for days, months or maybe years because you just haven’t had the energy to deal with it...and everything you think it brings.
For sixteen years, I’ve asked the Lord to take it away, and for a long time human efforts have helped but time and pain have finally had their way in wearing me down, so I’m waving my white flag. I surrender. My self-sufficiency is no longer enough so I’m seeking help. This specific trial is physical but I’ve seen many a friend bear emotional and spiritual battles that are just as real and cost just as much. The Lord knows I’ve got a handful of those too wrapped up in my roles of wife, mom, sister, daughter and friend.
As I read this morning that His grace is sufficient, my heart is a bit distant. In the church world, I often hear that grace is ‘getting what you don’t deserve’ and when I think about my salvation, absolutely! My sinful self deserves none of God’s favor. But today, in this trial, I honestly can’t help but think ‘I sure am getting something I don’t deserve, and there is nothing pleasant about it…how is that grace?’ Off I go to the dictionary. Grace: unmerited divine assistance. Ok, that helps. When I can’t do anything about this situation, God's assistance is enough. I’m glad to read on that his power is made perfect in weakness because I identify with that part. Remember that white flag?
While I've been dreading this day, I stop to take a breath and remember that for the last sixteen years the Lord has been near. He has always opened doors for me to shine his goodness into this (and many other) less than good situations. I know that he will give me the same divine assistance today if I call on him. I made the first call already, the next one should be easy. I think I’ll change my slogan from putting on my big girl pants to putting on his big God power.
In what situation do you need God’s power to assist you? Is it hard to admit that you are weak and need help? Make the call today.
Father, your grace is sufficient. Your assistance is enough. It’s okay that I can’t handle this on my own. You know it’s good for me to stay near to you but I often use my own strength to fight through this life. Thank you for making me weak today so I can have your power instead. I can’t wait to tell others about our adventure together.
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” John 16:32
I’m am not alone. I am not alone. You will go before me, you will never leave me. That worship song by Kari Jobe runs thru my head every single time I need to pee. I just want to be alone. For 30 seconds. A minute would be heavenly. Please!
If you’ve ever been a parent, I’m sure you understand. I’m convinced there is a silent alarm set across the door of my bathroom. It could have been silent in the house for thirty minutes or more. Everyone working on projects, playing or reading but the moment I walk in the bathroom...Mom, where are you? I need you. Mom, can you look at this? Mom, he touched me. Mom, who was the first person to split an atom? I’m an extrovert by nature, I love being around people. Before kids on a personality scale of 1 being introverted and 10 being extroverted, I ranked a 10. The last time I took this test I ranked a 5. I contribute the decline completely to ten years of bathroom intrusions.
As I read through the Bible, I see a constant push and pull between ‘please don’t leave me’ and ‘I need some space.’ Even Jesus lived and spoke of this tension. When he was tired and needed to be refreshed, he would often go away by himself to a hilltop or quiet place to pray. He even invited those in His presence to do the same. (he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31) However, he also showed compassion and sacrificial love when he met large crowdswho had followed him after he tried to find some privacy. (Matt 14:13-14) Jesus knows what it is like to be constantly needed. Clothes tugged on and requests asked of him day and night. Even healing power taken from him by surprise. I love our real-life Bible sharing how the disciples went ahead for food while Jesus sat down at a well alone. He was plumb worn out and knows how it feels to need a break.
Through the everyday ups and downs, our human bucket gets filled and poured out. Sometimes we need more filling and sometimes we overflow. Sometimes we want out of a relationship, sometimes we are hurt that those relationships are gone. In John 16, Jesus speaks to the disciples the truth that they will all leave him. The very ones who have been all up in his business for over 1,000 days are going to run away and leave him alone. These are the guys he wants by his side in the garden in his final hours. He doesn’t want to be alone, but he finishes with, “yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” If you have ever been or are currently in a situation where you feel completely alone and don’t like it, Jesus understands that too.
I’m still learning to embrace the tension of being needed and needing to recharge. I believe our flesh battles it all our life. First wanting a break while caring for those around you and then missing that season when they are no longer there. In the moments where I look up and my heart skips a beat because no one is around, my spirit overflows with joy that I am never really alone. The Lord goes before me and he will never leave me.
Are you needing to get away and find rest today or do you need to ask others to come alongside you? What truth of God’s never-leaving presence do you need to embrace?
Father, thank you for understanding my real-life struggles. Sometimes I need rest and a chance to recharge and that’s okay. Help me embrace interruptions of these times with compassion and love. Other times, I need support around me but don’t find what I need and feel alone. Fill my mind and heart with truth that even then, I am not really alone. You are always with me.
“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!”Psalms 127:3-5
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven....A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.”Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4
“But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Matthew 19:14
To all the people trying to have a nice Friday evening at the food court, I apologize. I was me doubled over in laughter with my friend as our kids raced Nascar-style around us. It was me walking hoards of children up and down the corridor looking for some food joint, any food joint really, that was still open. It was me ignoring the whines, gut punches and falls while the smallest one drank out of every. single. cup. Sure, our planned nice-family-dinner hadn’t quite worked out and here all twelve of us sat in a food court in the midst of chaos but I once heard said ‘the table doesn’t have to be extravagant because the people always are’ and it holds exceptionally true tonight.
It’s been twelve years since the four of us sat together on couches comforting one another in our season of loneliness. Desiring children yet the medical reality forecasting something completely different. Understanding fully the path we each walked, we prayed, entrusted the future to the Lord, and committed to rejoice with and encourage each other.Years have come and gone. Information shared via blog or online. Christmas cards crossed paths, all while prayers remained.
Tonight we are the chaos in your midst. Eight children in 6 years between us (yes you read that right), gifted by God as the fulfillment of His promise to provide. Some of these gifts came sooner than later, some from different cities and some as complete surprises but each a unique and tangible mark of God’s hand in our midst. And so I laugh and smile (and break for timeouts) and embrace the dirty looks because I am completely enthralled with the presence of my friend. No judgment or comparison between us. Just two moms walking in the grace and love of Jesus, laughing and sharing life...and thankful for husbands who are feeding our circus.
As the ever-moving amoeba of now-best-friends swirls with glee around us, I can’t help but feel the smile of my Jesus. “Let the little children come to me,” he reminded his closest friends. “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” They aren’t a problem, they are the purpose. You see us sitting in chaos, I see us sitting on couches. Not much has changed really. We still intimately understand this season of life. We still desperately need Jesus to walk us through each day and we still commit to rejoice with and encourage one another.
Who knows what twelve more years will bring? Gray hairs and laughter are a given. Maybe stories of redemption or celebrations of new beginnings. There might be tears of sorrow or frustrations at choices. Whatever that season brings, our friendship will remain...and maybe dinner will be better than a food court.
Who can you encourage today in the midst of their chaos? Do you need encouragement? Pray and ask the Lord to supply your need.
Father, I thank you that you bring along encouragement in my seasons of drought. This life of motherhood hasn’t quite worked out like I planned, but you are always faithful. Thank you for reminding me to steward well the gifts of children you have entrusted to me.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3
Fifteen years ago I had an assignment to take one Bible verse, study it and write a message. I vividly remember squatting against a wall in silence for a minute before I started my speech yet it felt like 10,000 minutes. I had chosen Isaiah 26:3 because after three failed surgeries the past year, I was currently in a season of waiting. As a habitual doer and go-getter, waiting still comes with great effort. Over the years I’ve found I repeat this verse to myself almost weekly. Waiting for a job, waiting for a good doctors report, waiting for a home to open up in another state while driving there in the moving truck, waiting years to get pregnant, waiting eighty-five days in a hospital bed once I was pregnant, waiting for the right counselor to help us, waiting for relationships to be reconciled and lots of waiting for prayers big and small to be answered.
I wish I could say that I’ve learned to wait well and that it comes easy but I would be lying. This morning I’m faced with waiting again. In addition to four upcoming surgeon appointments and several unknowns weighing on my mind, we currently wait daily to see if school will start tomorrow. The enemy wants me to waiver and get overwhelmed with uncertainty during the ebb and flow of my days. How thankful I am that God’s Word is alive and active. Because I have hidden His word in my heart, I take a deep breath and remain steadfast. He is with me and promises his perfect peace even in this season of waiting. He never failed me then and he won’t start today.
What are you waiting for God to do in your life? Are you choosing to remain steadfast and trust Him even when you don’t see results?
Father, thank you for never playing hide-and-seek with me. I can have your peace and you tell me exactly how to get it. Help me remain steadfast in your truth and trust that you are waiting with me.
The Shadow of My Porch Swing
You will usually find me on my porch swing or trying to get there at least. Warm drink in hand and the best view in the world...4 boys digging a hole. Seriously tho, I enjoy the chance to sit and rest but mostly ponder the life that happens in between each of those sways of that swing. As the sun rises and sets, the shadow of that swing moves across my porch reminding me that Jesus is always shining on each moment. May you find hope and rest in Jesus here.
Partnering with YouVersion and The Bible App, The Shadow of My Porch Swing - 7 day devotional is now available in the Plans section of the Bible app. Click link above or search by title or 'God's Presence.'