It’s Time to Wake Up Before We “Sleep” through Life | by Julie

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Wake up. Pack lunches. Take the kids to school. Exercise. Do laundry. Take a few minutes to catch up on friends’ Facebook updates. Pick up kids from school. Supervise homework. Take kids to sports practices. Make dinner. Clean up kitchen. Put kids to bed. Collapse on couch for an hour of TV. Say a quick prayer (and I mean quick). Go to bed.

Wake up and do it all over again.

Oh sure, we’ll mix it up a bit. Run some errands here and there. Carve out a few minutes to catch up with our bestie. Maybe devote 30 whole minutes to our Bible study homework IF we’re meeting the next day. Throw in a little, ok a lot, of yelling, and maybe a 20 minute nap (Who am I kidding? No mom has time for a 20 minute nap.) But all the same, it’s like our life is stuck on auto pilot and we’re living out a real-life Groundhog Day scenario. At least I am.

Meanwhile, Satan’s kicking back in his lair, feet propped up, catching up on old episodes of the Vampire Diaries on Netflix while we voluntarily self-destruct.

Satan need not exude the effort to tempt us with murder, mayhem, violence, stealing, pornography, adultery, drugs or any other evil depravity lurking in the dark shadows. Matthew 4:1 says “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted.” For 40 days and 40 nights the Devil taunted him to no avail as Jesus clung to the Word of God. Unlike Jesus, we don’t require Satan to put in that much work. We willingly hand him the keys to our souls in the form of busyness, stress, exhaustion, apathy and worldly desires.

Truth is Satan doesn’t comingle with most us in the immoral, ugly, secret corners of life. Satan is in the details. He’s crafty. He’s scheming. He’s calculating, and, most of all, he’s subtle. Just as he duped Eve into desiring the apple, truth is he’s duped us into an over ambitious, overscheduled, pleasure seeking superficial, world-loving, purposeless, robotic existence. And we think we love and desire, even need, every second of it. And that’s the biggest, most devious, most ingenious charade that Satan has perpetrated on the universe, on us. We’re on the highway to hell and we don’t even realize it.

Every day that I watch TV instead of opening my Bible, Satan wins. Every night that I go right to sleep instead of praying, Satan rests easy. When I miss church to sleep in, Satan rejoices. Every time I let a swear word slip, Satan smiles. When I quarrel with my spouse, Satan is at peace. When I pass judgment on the way friends and family live, Satan is satisfied. When I keep my mouth shut, when someone bad mouths my Savior, Satan is delighted. When I allow the tragedies of this life to overwhelm and depress me, Satan laughs. When I worry the days away, Satan is pleased. And when I do all of this in front of my children, Satan goes on vacation. His work is done.

If I’m not careful, I think I may just get to the end of the long-in-years earthly life I desire and realize I haven’t lived my life at all. That I may very well miss out on the joyful abundance, the meaningful commission that God would have for me. And worse yet, this sort of going through the motions, trying to keep up with the Joneses existence is quite possibly a contribution as Satan’s inadvertent foot soldier.

HOLD THE PRESSES! This is not the way I want my story to be written! But I must will my thoughts into actions. I cannot wish the life God wants for me into existence. It’s not going to effortlessly manifest. We have to work for it. Fight for it. We need to be intentional Christians or it’s not going to happen. We will just comfortably slip back into the world’s routine. Wake up. Take care of the kids. Work. Relax. Go to bed. Do it all over again and again and again. Unless. . .

We help each other. We worship together. We serve together. We challenge each other. We hold one another accountable. Proverbs 27:17 says, “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

We need to change our relationships. We need to change the way we interact. We need to go deeper. What if we texted our friends every day and encouraged them to read their Bible. What if instead of gossiping about Jane’s divorce over lunch, we encouraged one another in our own marriages. What if instead of critiquing Mary’s parenting style over drinks, we offered our support to one another as mothers. What if instead of spending our extra cash on designer clothes and pedicures, we bought groceries for a hungry family. What if instead of a playdate at the park, we volunteered with our kids at a homeless shelter. What if instead of correcting our kids we complimented them. What if instead of nagging our spouse, we pampered him. What if instead of fishing for success or popularity, we became fishers of men.

I suspect IF we did our lives would overflow with joy and abundance, and we might quite possibly change the world.

Life was not meant to be about getting married, having kids, buying a house, becoming a CEO. Life was not intended to be a solitary experience where sink or swim we’re on our own. But we know all these things. We have the knowledge. What we need to do is practice what we preach. Put words into action. Immerse ourselves in our faith. Kick Satan to the curb.

WAKE UP!

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The Courage of A Mother | by Seana

Photo by connieriggiophotography.com

She told me over the phone that she was pregnant. I swallowed. “How is she going to take care of this baby? Is she still using drugs? Is she going to abort? Dear, Lord, please don’t let her abort.”

With a thickening pause she added, “Don’t worry. I’m going to put it up for adoption.”

Relief released my tension, but then came the complex emotions of sadness and joy spinning together, making me nauseous.

“Can you help me find a program or place to live while I have the baby?” She asked.

By God’s grace and favor, we found her a pregnancy home to stay in. She remained sober through the birth and we dreamed together, as we did in the park as children years before, of what this young child will be when he grows up. As children we imagined having husbands and homes, not being homeless and pregnant.

During the following months, her love for her unborn son cultivated. We talked about what giving birth is like and what to take in your hospital bag, but instead of shopping through baby registries, she combed through parent profiles.

How do you choose a parent for your own child? Selflessly, bravely.

This week I read the beginning of Exodus, Moses’ birth story. During the time of Moses’ birth, all the Israelite parents were forced to leave their baby boys in the Nile to die by exposure, drowning, or however else babies left in the wild die.

I picture Moses’ mother. She just pushed her last exhausting push with joyful relief, but the next words meant life or death for her child. “Please be a girl, please be a girl,” I imagine Moses’ mom thinking. Instead, the word “boy” turns the beautiful moment into one of fear and angst.

However, Moses’ mom was brave. She saw that Moses was different and hid him for three months. Then, when she could no longer hide him, she makes a special basket with tar and places in along the Nile. What was she thinking, I wonder? The Bible does not say, but as I watched my friend offer life to her son, I can imagine. I believe she was heartbroken for the life she could not give Moses, but prayerful and hopeful for the life her son could have if she gave him away.

I held my friend’s sweet, perfectly health baby boy the day he was born; such a gift to the world in a small, totally-dependent package. I prayed over him and asked God to be with him, no matter what, no matter where, all the days of his life. I cried. I too lost the joy of knowing him as he grew up.

What I see from Moses’s mother… what I see from my sweet childhood friend… is the courage it takes for a mom to lay aside her own dreams, desires, and life itself, to offer her child to another for the sake of that child.

And in the case of my sweet friend, the birth of her son eventually brought her heart to a tender place to receive the birth, death, and resurrection of God’s one and only Son.

Whether women raise the child they did not birth, or birth a child they do not raise, it takes much courage to give of our selves so another may live.

Live courageously, today Mamas! God has a plan for your life and all the kinds of children He brings into it.

-Seana

Life’s a Rocky Road | by Julie

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Life’s a beach or is it? From a young age we buy into the fairy tale of life. We dream of becoming rock stars, walking the red carpet or playing first base for our favorite professional baseball team. As we grow older, our dreams become more “realistic.” We set our sights on marriage, 2.5 kids, a big house, a dog and a successful career culminating in a happily ever after. And once you get it, you know that you have won at the game of life. The end. Life’s a beach filled with fun, love and don’t forget money. Until . . .

. . . you wake up from the fantasy that we’ve been duped into believing and trade in your dreams for the hard-to-swallow pill of reality. Life’s not a beach. Happiness isn’t a box of chocolates. And even if you do manage to get everything you’ve ever dreamed of, something’s still missing because life’s a rocky road for sure.

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a writer, get married buy a house and have kids. I don’t know why I wanted these things. I just did. That’s what you do. And I was confident once I achieved them all, I’d coast into old age happy, happy, happy.

But that’s not exactly what happened. My college degree didn’t win me a high paying, newsworthy career. Even once I snagged a senior editor position, I could barely afford my car payment and roomed at my parent’s house. My prince charming didn’t come riding in on a white horse the minute I graduated college. In fact, my younger sister beat me to the altar. And even once I did walk down that aisle in a beautiful white dress and gave birth to two beautiful boys, picture perfect isn’t exactly the adjective I’d use to describe the life I was building.

But, but, but . . . I’m a Christian. I gave my life to the Lord at a young age. I did everything right. I never ditched school, not even once. I married a man who loves Jesus. I pray with my kids before bed and so on and so on. Where’s my perfect life? What happened?

In John 16:33 the Bible says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” There it is. Right there in black and white. It never says that our earthly lives will be filled with our heart’s desires, free from trouble, easy or even happy. Our lives are not like Hollywood movies wrapped up in a neat and tidy package. Satisfaction isn’t found in others or successes.

We’re chasing the wrong happy ending!

If instead, from the moment we were born we lived our lives focused on our eternal destination we could find a joy and peace unsurpassed by anything this life has to offer; a reality that blows all manmade fairy tales away. The prize isn’t the material offerings of this world, the fantasy of the American dream, but the majesty that awaits us in Heaven.

But we have to travel the rocky road of disappointment, divorce, poverty, cancer, loneliness, depression, childlessness, abuse, failure and so much more to get there. The sooner we accept it and look beyond ourselves Heavenward, the sooner our eyes will be open to the real happily ever after.

I’m 42 now. Gained a few pounds . I fight with my husband over his dirty clothes laying on the floor and rent my home. My kids are less like angelic cherubs and more like escaped zoo animals. I doubt my parenting ability and don’t’ really have many friends. I’m often paralyzed by anxiety and feel inferior, unaccomplished.

Yet, tomorrow I’ll laugh till my belly aches at my 9-year-old’s silliness. I’ll be completely content when he snuggles beside me on the couch. I’ll smile when my almost teenager shares his excitement about skateboarding and girls. I’ll look admiringly at my husband as he goes off to work at a sometimes thankless job. And I’ll walk outside my front door and see God’s majesty in the bird’s chirping and the kindness of a neighbor. All the while, I will be filled with the hope and faith God has embedded in my heart, which will not, cannot die unlike the fleeting dreams of this earthly society.

Revelation 21:4 says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” EVERYTHING we have ever wanted is within reach. We’re just looking in the wrong place. It’s not in the here and now, but in the hereafter. And if we simply put our life in God’s hand, set our course on his path, the reality God has prepared for us will greatly surpass our dreams and the disappointments of falling short in this lifetime.

Life isn’t about worldly wealth, fame, popularity, success, or even us. When we refocus our dreams away from the earthly desires ingrained in us by our society and open our Bible to discover what our creator truly designed us for – simply to love God and love others – we will find meaning, purpose and JOY in all circumstances.

Life’s a rocky road. Might as well eat ice cream!

When our Dreams and Circumstances Don’t Match | by Seana

stockvault-forest-fog142490 Since I became a mom, I have wrestled with what seemed to be contradicting desires: to love my family well and to change the world. I am a missionary adventurer at heart and my dream is to be an active part of every person in the world having a viable opportunity to know Christ. How do I do that from my kitchen sink?

For several years I believed a cultural lie: that what women do in the home is “nice”, but real work and value are found in what she does outside of the home.

That simply is not the message we receive from the Bible. The message I receive is this: love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength… and to love your neighbor as yourself. THIS, Jesus said, is the sum of the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37). THIS is the way to honor God and live for Him, whether in the home or outside of it.  Our value is in Him, not in the work of our hands.

When I am honestly seeking the Lord and following Him step by step, I can trust that His assignment for me in each season is what He deems most valuable and effective for His kingdom. That might mean working a job, focusing on the home, volunteering, and/or writing a blog post (lol). God is creative! His assignment for each of us can look different. Our responsibility is to seek His face with a willing heart to do what He says.

When we long to be somewhere else doing something else besides the assignment God has led us to, we are basically telling Him, “I don’t trust You to know what is best for me or the world.”

Is that how I really feel? No!

So, my new approach is this: live fully where God has placed me and pray for what He places on my heart. He may move me to specific ways to sow into my passion for lost people groups (like praying through unreached people groups and encouraging missionaries), but in the meantime, I will be worshipping Him by joyfully embracing His current assignment. After all, if I am willing to do anything for Him, I can trust what He gives me, as the work of my hands and heart, is what is most effective for His kingdom right now.

What is a passion or burden on year heart? God has a plan! Commit to laying out all your thoughts to Him in prayer and He will bring you peace in the current season and opportunity to engage in your passion in creative ways.