4 Lies The Barren Woman Believes–Part 3

lie 3 infertility

Today is Lie #3 of the the “4 Lies the Barren Woman Believes” mini-series. If you missed Lie #1 or #2, check out the two posts before this one. And may the Truth set you free!

Lie #3: I can’t have children because I am not good enough. If I were more “righteous” God would reward me with babies. God is punishing me for a past sin.

Truth: Oh sister. You know this one isn’t true—why do you believe it?

Let’s debunk this lie a little bit.

Children are a blessing. There is no doubt about it. Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.”

However, God also says that, “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew‬ ‭5:45‬ ‭ESV)‬‬ The rising sun and falling rain are symbols of blessing. God actually pours out His blessings on the just and the unjust. Both saints and sinners. ‬‬‬‬‬‬

If He only gave babies to the ones who were “righteous” enough—pretty much no one would have babies. (Like ever.) His word says, “None is righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:11) And God says that our most righteous deeds to “filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6) So let’s stop believing, “If I’m just a little more righteous, then I will conceive.” Because if that’s true, you will just keep heaping heavy burdens on your back. Children are a blessing and a gift to be received, not earned.

God is wise. In a way we can’t fully comprehend in this life. The fact that you can’t conceive is more based in His wisdom and purpose for your life, and not based on your good or bad deeds.

Look around, are the people with babies righteous? Some are, many aren’t. Using “righteousness” to obtain blessing from the Lord is a D-A-N-G-E-R-O-U-S place to be. This was the trap the Pharisees fell into. They thought their “righteous” deeds “earned” them a blessing. And that’s why they were furious when “sinners” were inheriting that blessing before them.

Ladies, I get it. I too have wondered, “What is wrong with me? Why does that teen-mom keep pushing her baby past my house? Why does it seem like this works for everybody else—except me? Did I do something wrong to make God close up my womb?”

While it’s good to ask God to reveal your past or present sins and aim to live a righteous life—you have to remember God’s immense grace for you. Grace is unmerited favor. Un-earned. Don’t get trapped into believing that you can “earn” a baby, or anything else for that matter. None of us can “achieve,” or “produce,” or be “holy” enough to earn God’s blessing. And yet, He is so gracious. It’s because of Him that we are saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and not by anything we could do.

I encourage you to keep crying out to Him and bring your requests before Him, just as Hannah did. But as you do, put your hope in His faithfulness, and not in your righteousness.

“But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.” Psalm 13:5


 

For more in this series, read “4 Lies Barren Believe-Part 1“, “Part 2,” and “Part 4“. Or, read any blog posts in the “Trying To Conceive” category.

A few you might like are:

To the Woman Who Thought She Was Pregnant, When She Wasn’t

5 Important Questions The Barren Woman Should Ask

To The Woman Still Longing To Be A Mom”

When Housework Gets The Best of You

houseworkNo one saw me do it. But yesterday, in my bedroom, I rolled up a pair of my husband’s khaki work pants, belt still in the belt loops, and chucked them against the wall.

I was angry.

Not at him. I was angry at all this housework.

It just kept coming.

At that moment, in my bedroom, I had already folded one basket of clothes, and two more baskets lay in a giant heap on our bed, waiting to be folded. (The socks are still in a basket up there right now, as we speak.)

But for some reason, yesterday, I felt like the housework was never-ending.

We had just gotten back from a trip, so there was a lot more laundry than usual.

But, have you ever had that feeling you are running around from room to room trying to pick everything up, and make it look clean–but somehow, even though you do this all day long–your house still looks messy?!

I was trying hard.

But I was losing it.

I cleaned the bathroom, I cleaned the kitchen, I picked up all the toys down-stairs, and ran them upstairs. Somehow, the toys kept coming back downstairs. (This happened about 5 times.) I made a good dinner for my family. I cleaned up from the dinner. I loaded and unloaded, and reloaded the dishwasher. And then there was the laundry–which by that point, I was chucking clothes at the wall…like a crazy person.

And I did it all with a big, stinky attitude, that cried, “Look at what I’m doing!” “Look at how much I’m serving you!”

Sometimes, housework gets the best me.

But this morning, in the quiet of the house, (my semi-clean, semi-messy) house, I felt the Spirit’s gentle prompting:

“If you can’t serve your husband, or your daughter, who are seen, how can you serve God, who is unseen?”

I quickly remembered throwing the pants at the wall. And my heart was pierced.

I turned to the Scripture that spoke about this. And read, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” 1 John 4:20

I want to know God’s will. I want to share the gospel. I want to do ministry for the Kingdom of God. I want to change my community. I want to do all these great things. But then the Spirit whispers,

“But what about this?

What about this very small thing?

For the ones who you do see? Right in front of you?”

I forget what a priviledge it is to even be physically able enough–to do a few household chores. To get to make my home a refuge and a safe place, for a husband that faces the world each day, and provides so much for me, and a fragile daughter who needs my love and protection.

Who needs me to clean the tub, and fold her freshly washed, Snuggle-scented little 3T-size shirts. And the crumbs swept off the kitchen floor. And clean sippy cups.

And a husband who needs my hands to make meals, vaccuum the carpets, and open the windows, and let some air in this place. And make the bed, so he can fall into it after a long day at work. And who also needs my arms open wide, ready to embrace him. To love him.

(And not throw his pants at the wall.)

I don’t need a housekeeper. Or a nanny. 

I need a new heart.

I need to exchange this heart of stone, for one of flesh. I need Christ to come lead me, come show me how to be tender, and kind, and willing to bend lower and lower still.

When I start feeling like, “Look at how much I am serving my family!” It’s usually because I’ve lost sight of how much my family serves me–all the time. I become blind to all the rich provisions and sacrifice my husband makes for me–daily and constantly–and without complaint. I forget how much joy and life and laughter my daughter brings to me. I forget what life would be like without her, or him in it.

Maybe my attitude needs to change from, “Look how much I am serving them!” To, “Look how much they are serving me!”

Because they are, all the time.

On our better days, my daughter and I play “Cinderella.” (Since we’re both obsessed with the new movie.) And she becomes my little helper with the chores. I call her “Gus Gus,” (like the mouse,) and she calls me, “Cinderellie.”

She stands on a stool next to the washer, and I hand her the dirty clothes, which she puts in, piece by piece. Sock by sock. (It takes awhile.) Then, I let her dump in the cups of detergent, and the creamy blue Snuggle. And with shaky hands, and huge smile, she does it. She’s so happy to get to do it. 

She’s so happy just to help me do something. 

And she begs me–to let her pull the warm dry clothes out of the dryer. And when I do, she looks at me and says, “Thanks Cinderellie!” Which I can’t help but smile at.

When I bring the baskets of clothes upstairs, and dump them on the living room floor. She runs and jumps in them like they are a big pile of leaves–and she laughs, rolling around in them. And I can’t help but laugh with her.

And I’m happy. Here. Doing just this simple thing.

With her. And for her.

She’s teaching me–what joy looks like.

She’s teaching me that serving someone can be fun.

Housekeeping doesn’t have to get the better of us.

It can instead, bring out the better in us. It can bring out Christ in us.

If we choose to let it.

 

It can bring out moments of joy, because your daughter is jumping in the clothes like a pile of leaves, and calling you “Cinderellie,” and giggling the whole time, like it’s the best place on earth. Because to her, it is the best place.

Or, you can do it all by yourself. With a bad attitude. You can run around from room to room and try to make it look like no one lives in your house. And you can chuck clothes at the wall. And think about how much you’re serving everyone. And forget how much they are serving you and loving you. All the time.

You can say about your chores, “I have to do this.”

Or, “I get to do this.”

If I can’t love and serve these ones here with me, who are seen, how can I love and serve God, who is unseen?

Don’t let housework get the best of you. Don’t let it steal your soul. Or your tenderness.

Be like Christ. Who joyfully lays Himself low, to serve and to love. And this laying low and  serving and loving–gives life to people.

 

Don’t let housework get the best of you.

But do let your family get the best of you. 

The part that laughs. That scoops up the crushed Cheerios off the carpet. That lets the kids jump into the pile of clothes. And who asks God for help when she feels she can’t give any more. And who asks God for help when she forgets how much she’s been given. 

And who asks God for help when she struggles to love and serve her family–who is seen.

For the God who is unseen, sees you. And loves you. 

And He sees it all. He is gracious, and kind, and tender. He pours out His love for you, He lays Himself low for you.

And no one can love, truly love, without Him leading the way.

And He will teach you to love the ones who are seen. As He shows you the love, of the One who is unseen.

“For we love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

I pray you know His love. I pray I know it. Because without it–we have nothing. Just clanging gongs and cymbals. Just rolled up pants smacking against the wall. But with it–with His love–we have the power to give life in our homes, to move mountains, to part seas, and to make a way–for God to come through. In our living rooms, and kitchens, and bedrooms.

For the One who is unseen, can be quietly seen, in us.

When we love.

How Spilled Cheerios Taught Me To Laugh

high chair
“Watch this, Mom!” my daughter said this morning at breakfast. Before I could respond, I watched her toss her bowl of dry Cheerios up in the air, and try to catch them in the bowl. “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” I screamed a deep, bellowing scream–as the Cheerios cascaded through the air and scattered all across the kitchen floor. “Ughh!!!” I screamed again. “Why did you do that!?”

“Don’t you know you aren’t supposed to throw your food on the floor??!!”

“Pick these up right now!!” I glared.

The look on my 3-year-old’s face showed me how terrifying I must have looked in that moment. For one, when I screamed, “NOOOOOO!!” it was the same pitch and intensity that Frodo screams in the Lord of the Rings when Gandalf falls off the cliff.

Pretty good for 8:10 a.m.

We were off to a great start. I’d like to add that I read this post last night about how God desires mothers to be gentle creatures. It was a great idea–gentleness. And it was a great post–I shared it with a bunch of friends before bed.

Too bad in real life (and especially before I’ve had my coffee), I’m not a gentle creature, but more like a creature from Middle Earth.

Realizing this, I knelt down…, “Selah,” I said, “Was that just an accident?” She nodded her head, looking up at me with her big blue eyes. “Were you trying to catch the Cheerios in your bowl?” She nodded again, and fell into my arms for an embrace.

“I’m sorry, honey,” I said, “Everyone makes mistakes. Even Mom.”

“It’s okay, let’s clean them up together,” I said.

We picked up as many as we could and put them in the trash. Then Selah said, looking dissapointed, “But I really wanted some Cheerios, Mom.”

I told her the ones on the floor were dirty–but I could get her a new bowl. “Here, I’m going to put you in the high-chair this time so you don’t spill. And let Mommy get them for you.”

I put her in her high-chair (which we don’t use much any more–except when I feel like she is acting sort of baby-ish.) I poured her another hefty helping of Cheerios into her little plastic Ikea bowl and said, “Be careful this time.” And…I kid you not…as I was about to hand her the bowl–I bumped my elbow on a kitchen chair–and the bowl and all the Cheerios went flying through the air. And then scattered all across the kitchen floor.

My jaw dropped, Selah’s jaw dropped–and then our eyes met.

And we burst out laughing.

We laughed hysterically–as we looked around at the plague of Cheerios that covered our kitchen floor.

And I swallowed hard. I was such a hypocite. And I knew it.

And she knew it. But she didn’t look at me like that. She just kept smiling.

Instead of screaming at me, or giving me the “ugly sigh.” (Like I would do to her.)

She giggled. And I giggled. And we couldn’t stop.

“I have accidents, too,” I said.

I got my broom, and said, “Do you want to help me?”

“Yes!” she cheered. I pulled her out of her high-chair and she grabbed her little broom and swept with a smile, and crushed some under her bare toes–but I couldn’t help but smile back.

I guess sometimes grace comes from the eyes of a child. And grace isn’t really as complicated as we make it. It’s simply laughing, instead of sighing. It’s biting your tongue, instead of screaming. It’s letting accidents be accidents. And it’s pausing to realize what your reaction (a.k.a. “wrath”) means to the heart of a child.

I think laughter is evidence of a gracious person. If you want to know if you are gracious–how much do you laugh?

She’s actually better at it than I am.

But I’m learning.

To laugh.

And to ask my 3-year-old for forgiveness when I lose it.

And to feel the power of recieving it from her.

And God is so faithful to expose my Orc-like heart–especially as a writer who wants to hide behind my words. He shows me my actions. Even the morning after I share great blog posts about “gentleness” with a bunch of my friends.

He humbles me. Whether it’s by me bumping my elbow, and spilling the Cheerios, or whether He sent an angel to smack them out of my hands (I really think it might be the second one–because they went flying.) But either way: He humbles me.

Right in front of my daughter.

And He reminds me I need Him even more than I thought I did. I need His love, and grace—and she needs it. She needs to see it on my face, and in my eyes. She needs to hear it in my laugh.

And He reminds me, in the voice of a little girl, that grace laughs.

And picks up Cheerios. One at a time.

mess

How Spilled Cheerios Taught Me That Grace Laughs

image

“Watch this, Mom!” my daughter said this morning at breakfast. Before I could respond, I watched her toss her bowl of dry Cheerios up in the air, and try to catch them in the bowl. “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” I screamed a deep, bellowing scream–as the Cheerios cascaded through the air and scattered all across the kitchen floor. “Ughh!!!” I screamed again. “Why did you do that!?”

“Don’t you know you aren’t supposed to throw your food on the floor??!!”

“Pick these up right now!!” I glared.

The look on my 3-year-old’s face showed me how terrifying I must have looked in that moment. For one, when I screamed, “NOOOOOO!!” it was the same pitch and intensity that Frodo screams in the Lord of the Rings when Gandalf falls off the cliff.

Pretty good for 8:10 a.m.

We were off to a great start. I’d like to add that I read this post last night about how God desires mothers to be gentle creatures. It was a great idea–gentleness. And it was a great post–I shared it with a bunch of friends before bed.

Too bad in real life (and especially before I’ve had my coffee), I’m not a gentle creature, but more like a creature from Middle Earth.

Realizing this, I knelt down…, “Selah,” I said, “Was that just an accident?” She nodded her head, looking up at me with her big blue eyes. “Were you trying to catch the Cheerios in your bowl?” She nodded again, and fell into my arms for an embrace.

“I’m sorry, honey,” I said, “Everyone makes mistakes. Even Mom.”

“It’s okay, let’s clean them up together,” I said.

We picked up as many as we could and put them in the trash. Then Selah said, looking dissapointed, “But I really wanted some Cheerios, Mom.”

I told her the ones on the floor were dirty–but I could get her a new bowl. “Here, I’m going to put you in the high-chair this time so you don’t spill. And let Mommy get them for you.”

I put her in her high-chair (which we don’t use much any more–except when I feel like she is acting sort of baby-ish.) I poured her another hefty helping of Cheerios into her little plastic Ikea bowl and said, “Be careful this time.” And…I kid you not…as I was about to hand her the bowl–I bumped my elbow on a kitchen chair–and the bowl and all the Cheerios went flying through the air.  And then scattered all across the kitchen floor.

My jaw dropped, Selah’s jaw dropped–and then our eyes met.

And we burst out laughing.

We laughed hysterically–as we looked around at the plague of Cheerios that covered our kitchen floor.

And I swallowed hard. I was such a hypocite. And I knew it.

And she knew it. But she didn’t look at me like that. She just kept smiling.

Instead of screaming at me, or giving me the “ugly sigh.” (Like I would do to her.)

She giggled. And I giggled. And we couldn’t stop.

“I have accidents, too,” I said.

I got my broom, and said, “Do you want to help me?”

“Yes!” she cheered. I pulled her out of her high-chair and she grabbed her little broom and swept with a smile, and crushed some under her bare toes–but I couldn’t help but smile back.

I guess sometimes grace comes from the eyes of a child. And grace isn’t really as complicated as we make it. It’s simply laughing, instead of sighing. It’s biting your tongue, instead of screaming. It’s letting accidents be accidents. And it’s pausing to realize what your reaction (a.k.a. “wrath”) means to the heart of a child.

I think laughter is evidence of a gracious person. If you want to know if you are gracious–how much do you laugh?

She’s actually better at it than I am.

But I’m learning.

To laugh.

And to ask my 3-year-old for forgiveness when I lose it.

And to feel the power of recieving it from her.

And God is so faithful to expose my Orc-like heart–especially as a writer who wants to hide behind my words. He shows me my actions. Even the morning after I share great blog posts about gentleness with a bunch of my friends.

He humbles me. Whether it’s by me bumping my elbow, and spilling the Cheerios, or whether He sent an angel to smack them out of my hands (I really think it might be the second one–because they went flying.) But either way: He humbles me.

Right in front of my daughter.

And He reminds me I need Him even more than I thought I did. I need His love, and grace—and she needs it. She needs to see it on my face, and in my eyes. She needs to hear it in my laugh.

And He reminds me, in the voice of a little girl, that grace laughs. 

And picks up Cheerios. One at a time.

spilled cheerios

 

How To Create A Schedule (Or Rhythm) For Your Week + Giveaway

schedule

This guest post was written by the first “mommy blogger” I fell in love with, during my first fragile months as a new mom. Her name is Jeanne Harrison from Loving My Lot and I am so honored to have her share some “real-life” wisdom with us when it comes to creating a schedule. 

How To Create A Schedule (Or Rhythm) For Your Week

Several years ago, I had some medical students over for dinner. Sometime during the evening while everyone was milling around the kitchen, one of them noticed my weekly schedule up on the fridge. Let me just say—it was a masterpiece. Color-coded, broken into thirty-minute increments, with all aspects of my life present and accounted for.

The medical student exclaimed, “Hey, look! We just learned about this in our psych rotation. It’s called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder!”

Okay. So it was a little over the top. That schedule lived on my fridge for months. In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t follow it. That was my dirty little secret. But it was just too pretty to take down. I loved everything it represented. Order, rhythm, accomplishment, purpose.

When Rebekah asked me to blog about how to create a schedule for her homemaking series, I felt those same words bubble up inside of me. Yes! I thought. Creating a schedule is so worthwhile, especially for a SAHM whose days are a blank canvas before her. But where do you even start? How do you know which activities to choose and which to cut? And how do you make sure the schedule you create is one you can actually live out? I want to suggest three principles that can help answer those questions.

1. The first is this: build your schedule around your priorities. It may seem obvious, but it doesn’t happen by accident. What happens by accident is we build our schedule around what’s “got to get done,” and then we groan in frustration when a friend’s crisis interrupts grocery day. Or we build our schedule around all the things we “wish we could do” until we’ve got ten thousand commitments and not enough sanity to fulfill them. Or we don’t build any schedule at all, and we fly by the seat of our pants until we collapse into bed on Friday and wonder why we didn’t spend any time with the kids this week.

We need to start with our priorities. What do we value the most? What needs to be lifted off the bottom of our schedule, dusted off, and placed back on top? Is it a commitment to grow in our relationship with God? Is it a thriving, healthy marriage? Enough time (and sanity) to invest richly in our kids? Meaningful connections with friends? Evangelistic encounters with lost people?

For me, the answer is yes. Yes, yes, yes to all of the above. Those five values are among my top priorities. So as I evaluate my schedule, I need to ask myself: Are these values “showing up” in my minutes? And if they’re not, how can I reorder my schedule so that they are? Let me give you an example. Because my husband is a pastor, he’s off work on Friday and Saturday. One of the ways I try to build my schedule around my family is by busting my tail on Thursday. I make sure the laundry’s done and the pantry’s stocked, so that I’m all theirs over the weekend. Friday morning is sacred. While the girls are at school, I commit to nothing except spending time with my husband. Some days I’m helping him get things done at work, and other days we’re sipping coffee on the back deck. But barring extraordinary circumstances, I don’t schedule anyone or anything for Friday mornings. I build my schedule around my priorities.

The beautiful thing about orienting your schedule around your priorities, is it prevents the schedule from enslaving you. So what if little Lucy interrupts “dishwashing time” to talk about what’s troubling her? She trumps dishes. Your values drive your schedule. Not vice versa. As you build your schedule around the things that matter the most to you, you’ll begin to recognize which commitments need to go. But hold on just a second! Before you cross off everything “fun and relaxing” in light of more noble pursuits, let me share my second piece of advice.

2. Don’t forget to factor in time for yourself. Pouring into every person and animal that crosses your threshold while starving yourself, isn’t noble; it’s foolish. We need a little blank space in our lives. We need room to breathe, and rest, and take care of ourselves. It will make us such better wives, and moms, and servants of Christ!

So what do you enjoy? What re-charges those batteries? Reading? Watching a favorite show? Baking, blogging, jogging, scrapbooking…factor a little of that into your schedule, and guard it! Don’t feel guilty for saying, “Sorry, I have a prior commitment Tuesday evening.” You don’t have to tell them that the commitment is with Pandora and your bathtub. It still counts! It’s a valid commitment. You know why? Because you count! You are a valid person, and you’re worth investing in.

3. Finally, don’t be such a stickler. It sounds backwards, but I believe we’re more likely to maintain a schedule in the long run, if we give ourselves the freedom to scrap it every now and then. The pursuit of perfection always leads to burnout. (Hello, pretty little schedule on the fridge!) Order your chores so that they serve your family. Plan your week so that you’re investing in the Kingdom. Carve out margin for yourself. But also give yourself the grace to say, “I couldn’t stick to it this week. I’ll start over again next week.”

It’s not the most profound advice, but this is where I’ve landed over the past few years. If you came over for dinner tomorrow, you wouldn’t find a schedule on my fridge. But there is one in my brain. There is a rhythm and order to my life—imperfect and sometimes messy—but there just the same! And by God’s grace, this schedule reflects my values more than it has in the past. And by God’s grace, it includes taking care of myself. And by God’s grace, it’s allowed to be a work in progress. Just like me.


This guest post was written by author/blogger Jeanne Harrison of Loving My Lot. To read more her posts go to her blog, or check out her newly released book “Loving My Lot.”

Enter the contest to win it for FREE! (I seriously LOVE this book, and if I could afford to buy it for all my mom-friends and sisters..I would.;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

[Join the discussion on the Free Spirit Homemaker Series: How To Maintain Your Home, Without Losing Your Soul! Check out these posts if you missed them: What Is The Purpose Of Homemaking?, Why Free-Spirits Are Naturally Terrible Homemakers, and Introducing The Free-Spirit Homemaker Series . Share your own thoughts in the comment section, or visit my Barren to Beautiful Facebook page.]

To The One Feeling Major Anxiety With The Start Of The School Year

image

When I was a kid, I used to be terrified the night before school started. So much, that I couldn’t sleep.  So much that one year, my little sister and I decided to get out of bed and do jumping jacks–just to make us tired enough to sleep. (Of course we got in big trouble when my parents heard “thumping” coming from our second story bedroom. And soon, we were back to laying in our beds, just staring into the darkness, and praying for the apocalypse to come before morning.)

I’m no longer praying for the apocalyspe, but “Back to School” season still brings me some major anxiety, even though I’m no longer a student, or a teacher. But just because the season is changing.

The other night we were driving home when I felt my stomach starting to twist into knots. I just felt…anxious. And I couldn’t connect it with any one thing. It was just everything. “Everything is making me feel anxious,” I told my husband. I couldn’t find the words, it was just…anxiety that slithered in like python, and was beginning to wrap around me.

I started to think about the start of the school year. And about the way our schedule will change. The new responsibilities I will be taking on. The goals I have. The expectations, and mounting pressure to, “Do more, and be more.”

And I don’t know if you ever feel this…anxiety.

But I do.

And I think it’s the same thing I’ve been wrestling since elementary school, when I was afraid I wouldn’t have someone to sit with at lunch, or I wouldn’t know the answer, or I wouldn’t be good enough for the team.

And the thing I fear is: Inadequacy.

My inadaquacy.

The fear of not being able. Of being insufficient. “Not enough.” Or too weak to follow through with my goals. The fear of not meeting expectations. The fear of failing. Of not performing well enough.

And as I thought about the year ahead, I just felt so sure I would drown in it.

“You will never be good enough. No matter how hard you try, you will always fail.” 

I  felt like I already failed—and I hadn’t even started yet.

“I’ll never have enough time to accomplish what I need to do. I’ll by flying by the seat of my pants as always. I’ll be stressed out. I’ll never have the energy. I will always do a mediocre job at everything I do.”

I felt defeated—and I hadn’t even tried yet.

And then came the worst voice of all, “What are you so worried about? It’s not like you’re even doing anything. People do tons more than you every day, and you don’t hear them moaning about it! Just suck it up!”

If you have ever heard a voice like this, or had a thought like this, I want to tell you right now: this is not from your Abba Father.

This is from the enemy of your soul.

And you want to know something? He wants to destroy you.

Because no matter what your “job” is, no matter if you get paid the big bucks, or none; no matter if you are teaching, or homeschooling, or just walking your child to the bus; no matter if you have six kids, or one; no matter if you have lots of supervisors to report to, or you are self-employed—you may be hearing these whispers, too.

They come from a deep and dark place, and they are the voice of the enemy. And they just keep whispering, “Inadequacy, inadequacy, inadequacy.”

Direct Your Deeds To The Lord

The morning I was wrestling those whispers, and my stomach was churning with anxiety, I happened to read Hosea 5:4, “They do not direct their deeds toward turningto their God, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know the Lord.”

What pierced me, was that God says,“They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God’… ‘And they do not know the Lord.” I looked down at my list of “to-do’s” and realized something BIG: I was not directing my deeds to the Lord.

And that’s why insurmountable stress was building. I was taking on goals, and responsibilities, and jobs myself—and not directing those “deeds” to the Lord. I was not even asking Him for help.

I completely believe that God wants us to call on Him during even the most minor tasks. So yes, call on His strength when you are scrubbing the toilet, ask for His patience while your internet is being slow, ask for His love when your husband desperately needs a back massage and you are tired as a dog. Because…

This life was never meant to be lived apart from the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ.

And we desperately need Him to invade every single area of lives with His grace. And something happens when you call on Him—He comes. He gives you the strength. He brings you the peace. He fills you with the joy.

When Anxiety Meets His All-Suffiency 

I know the voices that rise against you, because they rise against me, too. And I could try to encourage you by telling you how great you are. How talented. How there is no one like you. But at the end of the day…that doesn’t actually help.

See, God spoke to my anxious heart. And He didn’t encourage me by telling me how great I was, He encouraged me, He empowered me by telling me how great He was.

And as I looked over my scribbled to-do list, and prayed for the strength to do it, God just spoke so simply and softly to my heart. This is what He said:

“My Grace is where your “not enoughness” meets My all-sufficiency.”

My Grace is where your “not enoughness” meets My all-sufficiency.

Dear brothers and sisters, there is so much grace in Jesus Christ. And for the one who feels like you failed, before you’ve even begun this year…To the one who feels defeated, before you’ve even got started, maybe it’s today is the day you lay your insufficiency down at the cross of His all-sufficiency.

It was as if He is shouting,
“Hey! All you insufficient ones! I will make you sufficient!
All you weak ones! I will be your strength!
All you unable ones! I will make you able!
So call to Me! Cry to Me! Because I am going to blow your mind this year!
And you won’t be impressed with what you can do! But you will be in total awe…of what I can do! And at the end of it, you will fall down and weep with joy because with your own eyes you will see and behold Me!” 

God is going to give you everything you need this year.

God is going to give you the energy you need. The financial provisions you need. The mind you need. The motivation you need. The organization you need. The vision you need. The weakness you need. The brokenness you need. The humility you need.

And He is going to give you Himself.

And He will fulfill His purpose for you.

So the pressure is off. And we can send the whispers of anxiety back to the father of lies, where they came from.

Because we have a good, good Father. And as long as we fall on Him, we cannot fail.

His grace is sufficient for us. His power is made perfect in our weakness. And when we are weak, He is even more strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

And God did not entrust you to anything this year that He will not overwhelmingly empower you to do.

So come, indadequate ones and fall on His grace, that beautiful place where your not-enoughness meets His all-sufficiency.

“For He who calls you is faithful, and He will surely do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

When God Calls Your Marriage Out Upon the Waters

Our wedding day, June 13, 2009

Our wedding day, June 13, 2009

It was a hot June day, when I glowed in white all the way down the aisle. And he beamed, he beamed brighter than the sun with love, and joy, and promise. It was so easy then, as I walked barefoot through the sand, holding my Dad’s hand–and saying ‘Yes’ to all God planned. And everyone watched, and clapped, and cheered.

But that was before we knew what it would cost. Before anything was ever lost.

I knew marriage would get hard, but to be honest, I thought ours would be just a little easier than the rest. After all, we had Christ in us. How hard could it be?

I stood there at the altar, like a freshman ready to ace her first final exam, a big wad of index cards in my hands. Knowing every chapter and verse, and all the things I had rehearsed. And all the great lines I neatly highlighted from all those marriage books.

But the wind came.

The wind came and blew all those index cards away, out of my hands. Because all those books, and all those index cards were strapped to my forehead like a Pharisee wearing the Law. And it covered my eyes so I couldn’t see. I couldn’t see a man, in need of grace, and tender affection, standing right in front of me.

It’s been six years since the day I married him. And his eyes are still the same steady green they were then, and he captivates me still, without even trying. His voice, still tender smooth. And I still like to sleep in his old t-shirts. Soft and threadbare, worn with love. And they get softer in time.

And so do we.

But there have been nights, where that shoreline where we made our promises has seemed a thousand miles away. When we stood in the kitchen, exchanging red-hot words, like swords. And getting stuck in sticky webs of complicated conflict. Unsure of how to sort it out—unsure if it was even possible. And no one is watching anymore. No one is clapping, or throwing petals, or cheering us on.

But God.

I am convinced He really likes marriage. It was His idea after all. And I think He actually likes when marriages get hard–because that is when He does some of His best work. In our hearts. The only places that really matter.

I used to think good marriages were always easy, and never hard. But I don’t think that anymore. I think good marriages are insanely hard–but when they get hard, you don’t see the struggle as a reason to quit, but as a reason to keep fighting for it. To keep fighting for each other.

It seems so fitting now, that we got married by the water. Because all along, God would call us into it. We had no idea, as we exchanged our vows, and rings, and promises, and the waves collapsed innocently behind us—that God was going to call us into them. But that’s in fact, what marriage is.

It’s going into the water together. And there is nothing safe about it.

So that moment we were pronounced “husband and wife,” and we turned and walked down the aisle, and everyone congratulated us and cheered, we should have actually headed the other direction. Into the water, and not away from it.

When God calls you into marriage, He calls you out into the water. First, it’s just ankle deep, and you tightly hold hands, and smile. And you walk a little further, until you’re knee deep. But as you go further out, the water starts to go up to your waist. And the waves begin to break around you. And sometimes, it doesn’t matter how tightly you are holding hands, a big wave comes, and knocks you over, making you lose your grip on each other. And you try to find each other, but sometimes you can’t, because those big waves keep coming. And you aren’t strong enough to withstand them. The current gets strong, and threatens to pull you under, and you’re just fighting to stay afloat.

The waves just keep coming to knock you down, again and again. And you can’t swim any further out, you’re just stuck right there, getting tossed to and fro in the waves. I think every marriage comes to this place where you get stuck in the rough surf. And it feels hopeless and humiliating. Why can’t you just do this? Why aren’t you strong enough? And everything is telling you, “Turn back! Turn back! Turn back!” And you want to, because it would be so easy to just go back and lay on the shore and just cry, with your face against the sand, and think about how awful and scary those big waves were. And what a big mistake it was, to ever try to get past them. And just when you are about to turn back. Just when you decide it isn’t fun anymore, and you can’t take one more wave to knock you over, and are about to just swim back to shore—for good. You keep swimming.

You link hands with your spouse and you keep swimming. Sink or swim, but you refuse to go back to shore—because you know, deep down, that there is some mystery waiting for you out there. In that place just beyond the surf…is this place of deeper waters. Where you learn to tread. Where you learn to swim. And that’s where the adventure is. In that place where you finally learn to love.

A love that pushes past all the waves.

Because in the midst of those waves, you hear a Voice, that sounds like a thousand rushing rivers, that screams,

“Come out here! Keep coming! Further out! Keep swimming toward My love!”

“I have something out here for you!”

“This wasn’t a mistake! This is my plan!”

“I have ordained you together in this marriage! For My purpose! For My pleasure! For My glory!”

And when you have kept going–you suddenly get to this place of calm, in this place past the surf. And your treading together, stronger now, and having learned to swim. Having learned to follow the Voice. You realize He enabled you to withstand the storm. And you clasp each other, both looking like you’ve nearly drowned. And you laugh and kiss and you cry because you are so happy you didn’t swim back to shore, and because you can’t even behold the beauty all around you. The beauty waiting for you all along.

And then you see Him out there, walking on the waters, like nothing happened at all, like you didn’t just survive a hurricane, like swimming out there was the easiest thing in all the world. And when He sees you bobbing together in the water, He just smiles and says, “You of little faith. Why did you ever doubt?”

And we see, in that moment, we can trust Him. Not only for ourselves, but for our marriage. For the One who called us out to sea, surely will not let us drown in it.

So we don’t have to be afraid of the deeper waters. We don’t have to fear when the waves come. Or stormy skies. Or strong currents threaten to take us under. “For the One who called us, is faithful, and He will surely do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

So let’s keep swimming.

Because He’s out there waiting for us. Ready plunge us into the depths of His mercy and grace—and into a love so deep, your feet could never, ever touch the ground.