The Things God Teaches Us in the Dark

what-we-learn-in-the-dark

“I should’ve had all my babies in the summer,” I said jokingly to my friend. Only it wasn’t a joke. We were full into the flu season and I was trying to keep both boys healthy as we awaited the birth of our child- a girl. Trying and failing.

All of us caught colds in the final weeks before her arrival. Panic seized me as I imagined bringing our newborn home to a germ-infested house.

The fight against illness and seasonal elements was hard enough, but there was another battle waging. Another reason a winter baby gave me a sense of dread.

I remembered the months of depression that followed the birth of my first child, who was born in the middle of summer. Baby girl would arrive a few weeks before the official start of winter. The dreariness of the season always brought a gloomy mood with it, and on top of it we were adding newborn baby isolation.

A few weeks after our bout with illness, we brought our new girl home and the overcast weather swept in like clockwork. We weren’t supposed to take her into crowded places for a month.

The first few days I was too tired to care, but one afternoon I felt like the walls were closing in around me. Everything bothered me. I questioned my abilities as a mom and a wife, and at night when our newborn wouldn’t sleep, the tears came.

Sometimes when we go through difficult seasons of life, the lessons we learn stay with us. But most of them need repeating.

We humans are forgetful people. Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing over at Purposeful Faith. You can read the rest of my post here.

 

When You Don’t Feel Qualified to Do What God Is Asking

when you don't feel qualified

People tell me I’m a slow talker. Whether it’s because of my southern roots or because I’m constantly thinking about what I say before I say it, my words don’t come spewing out at breakneck speed.

Most days I’m okay with it. But every now and then, I wish I could turn off my brain and just speak. I know, that doesn’t make any sense but you get the picture. I want words to flow without thought of how they sound, whether my audience is understanding me or whether they’re offended by I’m saying.

A couple of years ago I attended my first writers’ conference and when people learned I was working on a book, the typical next question was, “What’s it about?” It was a question I both loved and loathed at the same time, but it was good practice for me. Explaining my heart’s desire to women I barely knew stretched me and forced me to get outside my head.

But part of me longed to run to my hotel room and slam the door. I felt unqualified. I was overwhelmed by the audacity of what the Lord was asking me to do: to open myself up and share a vulnerable message others could both understand and relate to. I looked around me at writers who had huge platforms, thousands of followers and fans and wondered what I was doing there.

In all my insecurity, I forgot about the truth the Lord spoke to me months earlier. He didn’t call me because I was qualified.

when you don't feel qualified

He didn’t choose me because of my impressive resume or my list of credentials. He chose me because I had a willing heart. A heart that longed to share the message he’d given me with other women who struggled with fear of never being enough or feeling confident in their roles as wife, mother, friend and follower of Christ.

Recently I was having another episode of anxiety over something I felt strongly the Lord was calling me to do. He brought me to the story of Moses’ call to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When the Lord told Moses what he wanted him to do, he protested. A lot.

Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled. 

Exodus 4:10 NLT

Moses was full of excuses and reasons why he couldn’t do what the Lord was asking him to do. But for every protest, the Lord assured him it wasn’t his strength or ability that the Israelites would need. It was the Lord’s.

It wasn’t Moses’ job to provide the miracle. He was simply a vessel for the Lord to show his power.

Often when I’m trying to follow the path the Lord has set before me, I become preoccupied with figuring out steps two, three and four when he’s only asked me to take step one. After I take step one, he shows me what he wants me to do next. But I can’t take those next steps if I’m in a frozen state, trying to see what’s ahead.

Sometimes we have to take that first step of faith before we see the next one the Lord has already set before us.

And the more we walk, we see how we don’t need to have the entire blueprint of God’s plan in front of us. We don’t have to boast a long set of credentials or an impressive resume with all the right skills.

We simply have to put one foot in front of the other.

 

Linking up with these communities: #RaRaLinkup, #IntentionalTuesday

When No One Understands Your Struggle, You Are Enough

made perfect

When something in the church world makes me angry, I have a tendency to go on a spiritual high horse.

Or at least, that is what I’m calling it. But the problem is it isn’t always as spiritual as I’d like to think.

A few weeks ago when I reposted a previous blog about depression, I had to get off the horse restrain myself. Comments and stories of being shamed, isolated and belittled came rolling into my inbox, and I was livid.

If there was ever a time when the fruit of the Spirit called self-control needed to manifest itself, it was in those moments when I heard from my readers, because I was sure some self-professed Christians needed to hear from me.

But the more I seethed, the more I realized what I really needed was some time away from social media to breathe and collect my thoughts. Most of all, I needed to let the Holy Spirit speak.

He does speak to you, you know. There in the space of quiet when the kids were outside playing in the sandbox and it wasn’t quite time for dinner, I could almost feel his embrace in a ray of sunlight, in the kids’ shadows dancing on the amber, knotted wood.

When the voices of the world become so loud it’s deafening, I need his peace the most.

And do you know what He pressed on my heart? To those who were told their depression wasn’t real: you are enough.

To others who heard it was impossible for a true follower of Jesus to be depressed: you are enough.

To my readers who are living with family members who do not understand why they can’t snap out of it and simply be happy: you are enough.

You are enough because God has made you complete through Christ Jesus. He did not pay for you with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of his only Son.

When we take up our cross and follow Jesus, we are not promised a life free of trouble, heartache or pain. No, Jesus guarantees we will face difficulty as long as we are in this world.

There is a part of us that aches for place we can’t even yet define…the eternal, the heavenly, the perfect. It is how we are designed.

Joy and celebration will come, but there will also be valleys and seasons when we have to rely on the strength of God to get us through. It is during those times when his power shines through us.

Being part of the body of Christ does not mean we are perfect. It means God’s power is being made perfect in us.

We all suffer. And the sad truth is that some of our troubles are hidden from view of others because we can’t bear another judgmental remark.

It is then that God uses women like Ann Voskamp to restore my soul when she says, “When the church isn’t for the suffering, then the church isn’t for Christ.”

It is not the well who need a doctor, friends. And while God does not desire for any of us to live in complete darkness, it is through our struggles that he does some of his most brilliant work.

Your dark can be transformed into evidence of his Light.

And that, dear body, is nothing short of magnificent.

 

*Photo credit (text added)

*Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday. Come join us and be inspired.

GIVEAWAY:

Congratulations to Mary Campbell! You are the winner of one copy of Mothering from Scratch. Thank you for participating.

Renewed Strength for the Uphill Marathon Days {Renewal Through Christ Series}

renewal series

To continue our Renewal Through Christ series, I am thrilled to welcome my friend Betsy back to the blog. Betsy’s words always exhort and point me back to the truth of Christ in a simple yet profound way. She makes me feel capable of tackling that next task and reaching my full potential in all the various roles God has given me. Today she is talking about the next area of renewal we will be exploring together: the renewal of strength.

Betsy de Cruz pic

Betsy de Cruz enjoys God, life, and dark roast coffee. She and her family live in the Middle East. Most days she feels privileged to live overseas; other days she wants to pull her hair out and catch the next plane home. Betsy’s vision is to encourage women to get God’s Word in, so their faith can spill out, even during life’s bumpy moments. You can find Betsy at faithspillingover.com , on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Renewed Strength for the Uphill Marathon Days

I always say I would have had 10 kids if only children didn’t get sick. I can handle diapers, meal time, story time, bath time, and getting them to bed. I can handle home schooling and sky rocketing hormones, but sickness? Sick kids leave me worried and weary.

I’ll never forget checking my 18 month old boy into the hospital at 5:00 a.m. After 6 months of intestinal infections, he got a virus that left him severely dehydrated and unresponsive. As day broke we sat waiting for the doctor, and my heart broke to see my big, strong husband cry.

The same kid later developed an asthmatic cough. He’d cough five times a minute. That cough kept us up nights and sent us to the emergency room and countless doctors. Total strangers approached me all the time to ask what was wrong with my son.

Then there was the week he spent flat on his back hallucinating from fever, unable to lift his head, open his eyes, or eat. Those seven days turned me into one distraught, dog-tired mom!

And that’s only one kid.

Motherhood: It’s worth it, but it’s a marathon.

Any mother would tell you. Nothing compares to the joy of feeling a newborn’s breath on your cheek or watching your girl twirl around the room in a princess dress. Your heart bursts with pride when she walks across that stage at graduation.

But if the joys abound, so do the heartaches. Mothering is a marathon, and sometimes you’re running uphill. You take your boy to a learning specialist. Your girl comes home crying. The marathon stretches ahead of you, but you’re not sure you can take another step.

On the uphill days your strength ends, and you come to the end of your rope.

That’s when God pours His power onto your weakness.

Are you there today? The road continues steep, and you’re running on fumes. Remember that God rides across the heavens to help you. God’s presence, God’s promises, and God’s power will renew your strength.

renewed strength

Plug into your Power Source

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)

Nothing renews our strength like staying close to the One who’s the Strength of our Hearts. Everything else may be giving out on you, but God will get you through. Plug into his power through prayer, His Word, and fellowship with His people. Keep close by Him on those falling apart, dog-tired days. Before you know it the day is over, and God gave you the strength you needed.

Live Grounded in Him

Keep yourself grounded in His promises. Read His words, remember them, repeat them, and request that He fulfill them.  God says, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9) He’ll renew your strength as you come to Him and claim His promises.

Step into the Flow

Ask God to pour on His power; then walk in faith even if you can’t feel it. Say, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13) Step into the flow of His power and take the next step. Prepare the next meal. Make the next carpool stop. He’ll renew your strength when you ask Him to pour out His Holy Spirit on you.

Whether potty training has left you powerless, or waiting up for your teen has wiped you out, God will renew you strength as you call on Him. Plug into your Power Source. Stay Grounded in Him. Step into the flow of His power. He’ll come through for you every time.

Now it’s your turn: How do you get through the uphill marathon days?

 

GIVEAWAY:

The winner of last week’s giveaway of Contagious Disciple Making is Bev Duncan! Thanks to everyone who participated!