Moving to Cali Part 2

I remember the day Paul said to me, “We are supposed to move, I know we are.”  I asked him if he was sure and he said yes he knew it is what God was asking of us.  I started crying and hugged him and we held each other full of relief and hope and complete blind faith.

I had known for a little while before Paul finally felt confident too.  We made the decision together last June but I had already gotten my confirmation from the Lord in May.  It came from Gibson, our oldest son.

A little back story…in 2016 when we were throwing around the idea of moving, we would talk openly in front of the kids about moving somewhere.  We’d be saying things like “Let’s just move to Europe.”  or “Fiji would be a good place to live.”  Just goofing around mostly, but anytime we talked like that, Gibson would cry real tears and beg us not to move.  It would honestly tear him up inside.  He would say that he never wanted to be away from his family and friends.  He was genuinely upset and scared at the idea of it.

So we stopped mentioning it in front of the kids.  We realized that we knew we were joking but they didn’t and we saw how much it upset Gibson.  So we would talk about it in private and pray about it on our own.  We stopped talking about it in front of the kids.

Months went by and as we felt that more and more it might be what was right for us, my mama’s heart hurt.  I pictured sharing the news with Gibson and him being so so sad and resent us and God for making him move.  Gibson is the kind of kid that is black and white.  He would know that if God spoke it to Paul and I that we would need to obey.  And I was afraid that he would grow to resent God for asking our family to do that.  I hated the thought of it.

The concept of submitting to God’s will even when it’s difficult and doesn’t make complete sense is hard for an adult to grasp much less a six-year-old!  So my prayer became like this, “God if this is your will for our family, I need you to speak to Gibson personally.  I need you to tell him that it is what you are asking of our family and that he will know that it’s your voice.  I pray that when he knows, that his whole countenance would change and he would actually be excited about moving to California.”

So here’s where this story gets really awesome….  May of 2017, I am getting ready for church and I’m playing a Bethel instrumental album in the background.  I’m sitting at my makeup vanity and Gibson is on the floor playing with Lego’s.  The following conversation goes something like this…

Gib- “Is this music from Bethel?”

Me- “Yeah Buddy it is.”

Gib- “They make the most beautiful music.  Maybe we should go there sometime.  Maybe we could live there.”

Me- “That would be so cool but you know they are in California like 30 hours away from here.  If God tells us to go we will.  But that’s a big move, we need to know that is what God is saying.”

Gib- “Is that what God told us to do?”

Me- “I’m not sure bud.  Why don’t you ask God and see what He says to you.”

So Gibson shook his head and looked out the window with a look of concentration.  He was silent for about 2 minutes as if he was really listening.  It was honestly so sweet and kind of surprising to watch him really trying to hear.  He was 6 years old mind you.

As I was starting to wonder if he had trailed off in his mind and was now thinking about the birds outside the window he turned to me and looked me straight in the eye and said this…

“Mom, God said we are an awesome family and we need to go be a part of that church.”

Tears flowed and I was stunned.  He was so confident.  I asked him if was sure and if he understood what he was saying.  And then he blew me away even more by answering with genuine excitement,  “Yes mom, I know.  That’s the first time I’ve ever heard God’s voice!!!”

And since that day Gibson has been sure that it is what God is asking the Stern family to do and he is truly excited and hasn’t pushed back once.

It was literally the mama’s prayer I had prayed and the confirmation I needed to know that it, in fact, was what God was asking us to do!  For me, I knew that God had heard my cry and assured me that my babies would be ok with this move, that it wouldn’t destroy them, that it wouldn’t make them resent us or God.  We were involving our kids in our testimony and inviting them to be part of our faith and participate in waiting on God’s voice.

Which a side note- my middle son who has autism and loves structure and doesn’t do well with change, is the most excited of us all!  He talks about moving to California all the time and can’t wait!

So that was our first confirmation of many more to come….

join me next week to hear the next one (As I’m writing these stories my faith is being strengthened again!  I hope it strengthens yours.  God is not just some mythical creature up in the sky.  He’s our father, he loves us, and He is faithful to lead us and guide us in everything!!!)

Moving to Cali (Part one)

Hey readers.  I’ve been MIA for a month because we sold our home, moved out, and moved in with my parents.  Life has settled down a bit for now and here I am.  I’ve been getting a lot of questions about our big move to California this summer and I decided to write and share about how we came to the decision and how God has opened so many doors to make this move even possible.

I will try my best to keep it short-ish, although it is kinda a long story, as most life change stories usually are.  But here goes…

2016 was a very difficult year for Paul and I.  Like so much so that we (I) just wanted to run away from my life and St. Louis.  I would tease (half-seriously) about moving away, far away.  “Let’s just sell everything and move to Italy” was my coping technique for the pain and turmoil I was feeling internally.  But wisdom would remind me that running away wouldn’t take away the pain, so I stayed put and faced the pain head-on.

But during that season God opened up my heart and mind to the idea of moving.  Never in my life had I even entertained the idea of moving away from my hometown.  I was content in the midwest and pictured my life here.  But in that tough season, I started asking God a lot of questions.  I started wondering why things had happened to me, I started wondering what God was doing with my life, and I started surrendering to what He was trying to do in me.

When people are hurting you either retreat and try to numb the pain or you look that pain square in the face and do some serious reflecting and soul-searching.  I started out with the numbing method.  I retreated and just wanted the hurting to go away.  But I eventually understood that the pain wasn’t going away until I faced it and felt it fully.  So I decided to reflect and feel all the pain.  I decided to dig deep inside and then press in deeper with the Father.

There is where I started feeling like maybe God was asking us to be open to moving, to changing up our lives, to do something different.  Paul and I would have discussions about moving.  We would explore the idea with an open heart and mind.  We did a lot of praying about it and talking about the logistics of it.  Most of the time, we’d end up a little scared because on paper it didn’t make much sense and we would both just shelf it for a while out of fear.

Redding, California is where we were really considering.  The only connection we had with Redding is a church there called Bethel.  During our tough year, we would listen to their podcasts and would feel so connected to them all the way over here in St. Louis.  Paul and I would have a discussion about what we felt God speaking to us or something we felt convicted about and then the following weekend the message would be almost exactly what we had already discussed.

I know a lot of people might think that’s strange or just coincidence but Paul and I felt differently.  We truly felt like it was the Lord getting our attention and giving us signs.  So early 2017 we both started really considering moving to Redding.  We really wanted to know that it’s what He was asking of us so we each had specific things we were asking God to do to confirm that it was His will.

That’s all we want.  We want to be in His will.  We truly want to hear the voice of God and obey without doubt and fear.  We want it to be His voice leading us and not our own planning.  Even when it doesn’t make sense and it seems crazy to everyone else, we want to obey Him.  Because we know that when it’s Him, He will make the way and He will be faithful to take care of us.

So, we asked the Lord to confirm that this was right for our family.

Next post I will share the confirmations that God has given us!  I can’t wait to share them, it’s so exciting to us to have a God that hears and answers….stay tuned… :)

Inspecting our homes

We are in the process of selling our home and doing all the stuff that’s required to close.  A couple of weeks ago we had the inspection.  I was home alone with Willow and had a scheduled inspection.  My expectation was that one guy was coming.  No, it ended up being 4 different men and they were here for four hours!

As they were here for more than an hour I started feeling extremely anxious.  I was moving from room to room to stay out of their way and so it wasn’t so awkward.  But my blood pressure was rising and I was really ready for them to get out.  I could hear them on my roof, I could hear them opening closets and checking light switches.  They were whispering and writing things down.

As the hours passed I became more and more on edge.  I was kind of freaking out which isn’t really like me.  Paul got home from work after they had been here for 3 hours and by that time I was done with it all.  The guys finished and left and I was exhausted emotionally.  I jumped down Paul’s throat for something silly, I had no patience left with my kids, I was frazzled, to say the least.

As the afternoon and evening went on I calmed down and started to get my sane mind back again.  I apologized to my husband for being a physcho and was able to handle my kids’ normal chaos again.  After the kids went to sleep my husband and I had a time of prayer together so I could release my anxiety to God and ask for peace again.

Over the next few days, I started to search my heart on why the inspection had put me in such a tizzy and I feel like God gave me this revelation….

These men were looking for what needs work.  They were looking for possible small issues that could turn into major issues.  Their job was to scrutinize and uncover every possible problem.  And that puts me in a very vulnerable spot.

I realized that it’s easy to show the house to others after I’ve picked up the toys and put fresh flowers on the table.  When I’ve made sure that it’s clean and I’m diffusing something citrusy.  But when I invite someone in to really search and find the “dirt” and the problems, I get very uneasy.

I do this in my own life as well.  I feel very comfortable to allow people to see me.  I’m ok with showing a little of myself and putting my best foot forward so to speak.  But when I get close to someone and allow them to open the cabinets to my past and lift up the rugs in my heart I become less confident and more anxious.  I become uncomfortable with the vulnerability and what they might find that needs an update.

But what I realized more than anything, is that those guys aren’t trying to “get me”, they are simply trying to help me locate a small problem that could potentially become a huge problem.  The report came back with a few things that were recommended to avoid major issues down the road and that’s a good thing to have information on.

It’s not scary to be told where we need to focus on.  It takes a little time and a little money and replacing some old things with some new things.  It’s scarier to ignore it and end up with a house fire or the foundation cracking.

It is totally the same scenario in our own lives.  We are so afraid to allow people to see us, really see us because they might find something that needs work and that exposes things in our hearts.  We might find some things that are going to really destroy us over time if we don’t address them when they are small.

But if we can just invite those people who love us to have access to our cracks and crevices and allow them to reveal them to us, I believe we can heal faster and be more whole and prevent bigger issues from occurring.  It sets us free to open ourselves up to be seen because then we are no longer in hiding and having to put on a show all the time.  We can be bare and open so we find those things that are causing problems in our lives and work on them.

We are truly being free when it’s all out in the open.  I am a believer in vulnerability.  It’s not always easy and most likely uncomfortable but it is the way we are created.  We are born naked and vulnerable and throughout our lives we learn how to cover and hide and put on masks but true freedom and authenticity is taking off those masks and really allowing others to see us.

This week I encourage you to be more vulnerable and open.  Allow someone to see you and speak into your life.  And if you aren’t comfortable with that yet, just ask God.  He will reveal those areas that might need some tweaking and He ALWAYS does it with perfect love.

 

 

Through a Dirty Mirror

I have a vanity in my bedroom where I do my makeup.  I’ve had it for about a year and I love that I got it.  I used try to get ready in my small bathroom while standing up the whole time and with my kids coming in and out to use the bathroom.  It wasn’t ideal.

And because I actually like putting my makeup on and taking time to get ready, I figured a place away from the rest of the busy house where I could sit and take my time would be a better spot.  Well of course it’s at a height that everyone can reach.  And by everyone I mean my children.  Willow loves to grab the mirror and pull it to see herself.  Cannon also enjoys playing at my vanity while smudging up my mirror.

Well as time has passed, that mirror has gotten pretty grimy.  There are finger prints and smudges all over it.  There is even something sticky that hasn’t been identified yet.  And little by little my reflection has become more hard to see clearly.

I’m looking at this mirror that is tainted and dirty, and it makes me see my face a little distorted.  It has made my reflection look off and I’m unable to really get a clear picture of how I truly look.

I started thinking about that mirror and how I’ve let grime build up.  I’ve let other people put their hands on it and they have dirtied it up.  I just keep using it with all that mess on it. I guess I’ve gotten used to the way I look through its tainted reflection.

It made me think about how I do that in life as well.  Words are said to me that make me feel ashamed.  Friends have hurt me and leave a residue of disappointment and abandonment.  I allow our culture to put fingerprints on my heart that start to cloud up the true reflection of who I am.

Little by little, we have been handled without care and with the wrong hands and we start to try to see ourselves through a dirtied mirror.

Well, this weekend, I sat down to do my makeup and looked into my mirror that was completely clean and cleared of all marks and residue and I couldn’t believe how easy it was to see myself the way I truly look.  I was no longer having to squint and look past the mess.  It was so nice to see myself without the junk messing with my vision.

My husband had cleaned the mirror when we were cleaning and I didn’t know he did that.  It probably took him 2 minutes to do and I wondered why I hadn’t just done it myself!  I hadn’t liked seeing myself through a dirty mirror but just never took the time to clean it.

Sometimes I think we need people to help us see ourselves as we truly are.  Sometimes we need people who really love us to help us clean our mirror and show us the reflection that they see.  And sometimes we just need God to come in with a clean sweep and wipe away all the yuck clouding up our reflection.

Either way, we need help with seeing ourselves as we truly are.  And as we see ourselves more clearly, we will start to be able to decipher between who we really are and who the world has told us we are.  We will notice the difference and be able to know when it’s time to erase the stuff clouding up our vision.

As time passes, the mirror will get smudged again and will be in need of cleaning.  I will have a misconception of myself while looking through it and I’ll need to get rid of the yuck once again.  But hopefully this time, I will be able to recognize it before it takes over the whole mirror and hand it over to the One who does the most thorough cleaning of them all.

Where in your life is your perception of yourself tainted and dirtied up?  Who has marked you and caused you to see yourself in the wrong way?  Give your mirror to God and ask Him to clean it up for you.  Hand it to Him for a refocusing of who you really are and the reflection that He sees.  It’s a much more lovely sight to see yourself through a clear and true reflection that hasn’t been dirtied up by others.  He is ready to show you what He sees when He looks at you.

My Beautiful Girl

Can I just be real in this post?  As if I’m never raw.  I typically am.  But I mean like really vulnerable?  Ok good. Cause I have something to address.

I’m working on getting in shape again.  I had a baby 16 months ago and I’m still carrying around 20 plus pounds that wasn’t there before.  So I’ve consistently been working out and counting macros and being disciplined.  It’s been good.  I feel stronger and I’m proud I’ve stayed with it.

But lately I’ve been having these moments of self-hatred.  Even though I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, I’m not really seeing the results I think I should have.  I “think”.  That doesn’t mean the expectation I have on myself is even possible.  But I “think” I should be down more weight.  I “think” I should be able to wear those jeans again.  I “think” I should not have cellulite.

Weight.  That stupid number that I have surrendered to God over and over and over again.  For as long as I can remember I have been on some kind of diet.  I have counted calories and tracked my food and restricted myself.  I have punished myself for the fat around my middle by turning down dessert and not eating even when I’m hungry.  I have been anorexic in the past and I have obsessed most of my life about what I eat.

I know in the depths of my heart that I am vain.  That it all stems from vanity.  Because if you take away the option of weight loss and tell me that if I work out and eat healthy I’d never lose weight, that it would only be for health….I’d be kind of devastated.  I would probably say forget it then.  I won’t try so hard.  I’ll just enjoy life and only do things that sound good.

Which brings me to this…. I’ve realized the real root is that I just don’t like who I truly am.  I’m not okay with the physical attributes that God has given me.  When I have these discussions with my husband he is completely dumbfounded because he sees me in such a different way than I see myself.  And for the first time maybe ever in my life I get it.

Today as we were discussing my frustration with why the scale isn’t moving and why I can’t find a diet that helps me lose weight, my daughter was running around us playing.  I was telling Paul that I just want to know what is right for me and for my body.  I was obsessing about what I’m supposed to do to lose weight, and I look over at my little girl.

I say to Paul, “I don’t know what to do.  I wish I knew how to eat and what to eat.  If Willow came to me and asked these things, this is what I would say to her.”  And through the sobs, I spoke out loud these words of wisdom to my sweet, beautiful daughter as if the Father was speaking them over me.  I would say,

“My beautiful girl.  I want you to do what brings you joy.  I want you to move your body by dancing and walking and running and the things that feel good to you.  And I want you to move because you celebrate your body, not to punish it.  I want you to know that your true beauty is what is flowing out of your heart and that no matter what your body looks like you are beautiful.  I would tell you to eat things that God created and savor life and the flavors of life and do it while glorifying God for the food He’s given us.  I would tell you to live your life to the fullest, not being obsessed about your weight, not a slave to always trying to change yourself.  I would tell you to choose healthy habits but allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in all things.  To live your life enjoying every moment and every blessing.  And to never ever forget that you are so beautiful and strong and capable and loved.  I want you to know that your size doesn’t dictate your worth and that God’s plan for you isn’t determined by your waist size or weight.  That you are made in His image and you are made perfectly.”

And when I was finished, my husband looked at me and tenderly said, “I’ve been saying those things to you for years.  That’s how I see you.”

And it all made sense.  I don’t see myself the way my God sees me.  The way my friends see me.  The way my family sees me.  The way my husband sees me.  I see myself through a very distorted, deceptive lens that is keeping me from appreciating my body and glorifying God with it.

If I could just talk to myself the way I talk to my daughter I could be so liberated and freed from this bondage.  I could let go of the pressure to become something else.  I could accept myself as I am right now.  I could hear my Father’s words over me and walk in the acceptance that I’ve already been given.

That’s my goal right now.  To quiet the voice that has been too loud for too long and listen for the only voice that matters.  His.

 

Trust Fall

I have three children.  Two boys and then my girl.  I thought girls were supposed to be less rowdy.  I had planned on my daughter being careful and dainty and unlike her brothers.  Nope.  She’s my most wild and reckless of them all.

I’ve been observing her lately.  She’s 16 months old and she’s in full on toddler mode.  Climbing everything, into everything, ignoring my reprimands.  It’s a wildly chaotic stage.  My nerves are a little shot and my hands are always catching things falling.  Most the time, she’s the one falling…

But what I’ve observed and admired the most about my Wild Willow is her complete abandonment of fear.  She will literally stand on the edge of our bed and if we are anywhere in the room, she’ll find us with her eyes, give us a look of anticipation, and just fall off the bed.

She knows we will catch her.  Because every time, we do.

I’ve been thinking about that trust fall that she does.  She looks for her care-taker.  She makes sure they are around.  And then she flings herself into the unknown because deep down she actually does know that we won’t let her hit the ground.  It’s not the unknown to her.  It’s just the excitement of when we will catch her.

And then she squeals with joy and does it again and again.  She has never done it when we aren’t in the room however.  She knows that without our presence, she’d hit the ground and she’s a smart girl.  Her trust fall only happens when we are right there with her.

I’ve been thinking about that in my relationship with God the Father.  Do I make a leap and trust that He will catch me?  And if I’m not making leaps is it because I’m trying to do it on my own?  Do I know that He is right by my side?  Do I have the same anticipation that He will never let me fall?

I admire this in my girl, (although scary for mommy most of the time.)  She is fearless.  She is a risk taker.  She is confident that she can do anything and everything.  And I want to be that too.

Paul and I feel like God asked us to take a huge trust fall and move our family across the US to Northern California.  We know that we are supposed to leap into that unknown and that He will catch us where we fall but I can’t say that I’m not having a hard time just letting go and making the jump.

We have already said yes to God.  We are moving this summer.  We’ve sold our house, things are lining up, and we are going.  But I am still on the “edge of the bed” mentally because I don’t know what’s on the other side.  I don’t know where our income will come from yet, I don’t know how my kids will transition, I don’t know how I’ll handle being away from my family.  There are so many uncertainties still but I know that He’s with me, waiting to catch me.

I want to be like Willow.  I want to make this leap with anticipation of the Father’s hands right there, ready for me.

So this post is 2 things….an encouragement for you readers to be more “like Willow” and do that trust fall with God.  He is such a good Father, he will catch you every time.  If you look for Him, and wait for Him to be in the room with you, you can always rely on His arms to catch you.

And secondly, this is our announcement that we are moving to Redding, CA this summer.  If you pray, we’ll take some of those prayers! We do not have all the answers, we don’t see the big picture, and we have some fears of course.  But we are doing this trust fall because God said, “Go ahead my dear, jump!”  And so we are….

…more to come on the story of our move…

Starting Again

So I started working out again this week.  I’ve been putting it off for months and months.  I’ve been coming up with excuses and reasons why I can’t or am not ready.  I’ve been procrastinating until this past Monday.  I got a personal trainer and asked him to help me start again.

I say start again because this is not my first time with a trainer and with working on my fitness, but I am starting over.  When I got pregnant with my last baby, Willow, I was probably in the best shape of my life.  I was teaching fitness classes, I was doing well in CrossFit.  I was meeting goals and setting personal records.  But that was 2 years ago.  And since then I’ve done almost nothing physical.

Before you stop reading because you aren’t interested in fitness, keep reading.  I’m not really talking about workouts and the gym in this post.  I wanna talk about something deeper and get to the real issues that I’ve been facing in the past year.

I loved working out.  I really am one of those people who enjoyed the gym.  I love to lift heavy weights.  I love to get my sweat on.  I feel really good when I have a consistent fitness routine.  I like everything except running.  Runners, I’m sorry.  I truly gave it my best shot and I really really fail at it.  I’ve shelved it for now because I don’t like to say “I’ll never” be anything.  So maybe one day I’ll be a runner, but not today.

So for a while, I’ve been having this inner struggle with starting to work out again.  My husband has been encouraging me to get back into it.  I definitely have the time to go to the gym if I wanted to.  But I just kept putting it off.  I kept choosing to do something other than work out.  And I finally had to ask myself why I am not pursuing something that I actually love.

Last week one night I sat down with my husband to talk through my feelings and sort it all out.  Does anyone else have to work through things verbally like I do?  I do my best reflecting out loud.  Luckily, my husband is the best listener.

So as we are talking about my hesitation in going back to the gym, and I’m crying while sorting out my feelings, I realized that two things were holding me captive.

Shame and fear.

The shame. I had to get honest about my current situation.  I’m really out of shape right now.  Like climbing one flight of stairs gets me winded.  I had to be vulnerable enough and humble enough to admit my true current reality.  And that is, I’m back to square one.  I’m not in shape.  My previous clothes still don’t fit.  I’m not where I used to be.  And that leaves me feeling ashamed and embarrassed.

I’m embarrassed that I’ve let myself go this much.  I’m embarrassed that I’m unable to do the things I’ve done before.  I feel ashamed of my body and my flaws.  I don’t want to be seen, I want to hide.

Shame does that to a person.  It makes you want to retreat and isolate yourself.  It keeps you at a standstill because you don’t think you’re good enough to overcome.  You see yourself in a “failing” spot instead of allowing yourself to dream of all that you can be.  It makes you stay in the past and in your current state while suffocating hope of a better future.

I allowed shame to tell me that I won’t become that strong, fit girl again because I’ve let myself go too far.  I’ve listened to the little whispering lies that keep me hiding and isolated.

It’s so important to recognize shame.  When I was talking through things I finally admitted where my shame was and in a moment, hope started to rise.  I became honest with myself and with my situation so I could decide what needed to be done, to get out of this current situation.  It allowed me to have a starting point.

And then, that allowed me to recognize my second captor, fear.  I’m afraid.  What if I fail?  What if I don’t become who I am striving to be?  What if I never get back to my old self?  What if I can’t fit into that size again?  What if I look like an idiot at the gym?  What if I give it my all and I’m still not great?  All these fears circling in my mind telling me I can’t and shouldn’t even try.

I realized that shame and fear actually go hand in hand.  Shame pulls on us keeping us from moving forward and fear pushes on us making us fall back.  So either way, we are not pressing on.  When I’ve allowed fear to keep me from trying, then I stay where I’m at which feeds my shame all the more.

And you know what, it has sucked and I’m really getting tired of living in that constant cycle of shame and fear taking turns beating me down.

So, I faced those giants and I decided to kick em both in the teeth.  I contacted my trainer and set up an appointment.   I admitted to him that I am completely starting over and was honest about where I’m at.  And then I went to my first session full of grace and forgiveness for myself and for my current place in life.

And today, I’m going to the gym again.  And my quads hurt so bad and it feels so good.  Because it reminds me that I am stronger than shame and fear and that I hold the ability to change my course at any time.  I can decide to not allow shame to lie to me anymore and I can walk past fear with my head held high knowing it doesn’t dictate what I do anymore.

And I KNOW that you can do the same thing with your current situation.  What are you not doing because of shame and who are you waiting to become because of fear?  Today is your day- I’m believing in you and I know that you can change your course!  Let’s DO THIS!!  :)

 

“I feel like a good son”

Isn’t it interesting how God speaks to each of us differently?  I think it’s so neat that the Lord uses our ordinary situations to reveal things to us.  For me, it’s usually my kids.  I’m in the thick of “stay-at-home-rarely-does-much-else” season and so God chooses to use my daily grind of poopy diapers, clingy kids, and simple child conversations to speak to my heart.

I find that it doesn’t matter what season of life I’m in, if I’m working full-time, if I’m home full-time, when I was single, when I’ve been so busy, when I have too much time on my hands… He’s always speaking to me through my daily tasks.  And I just love that about Him.  I don’t have to wait until “when” or “after” to have conversations with my Father.  He’s always speaking if we are willing to listen and to invite Him into our daily grind.

So I wanted to share a time recently when God spoke to me through one of my kids and revealed to me a piece of His heart for us.

A couple of weeks ago, during holiday break, I was home with all three of my darling kids.  They are so darling and they are so much work at the same time.  I say that with full understanding that they truly are a gift, but sometimes a stay-at-home mama needs a break because it’s draining.

And guess what- that’s my reality, and that’s ok for me to say.  And I’m learning that there’s nothing wrong with me for feeling that way.  It doesn’t make me love my kids less or mean that I’m ungrateful.  And if you feel that way too sometimes, that’s also ok. (that’s a topic for a different post ;)

Anyways, it was a tough day for me.  I hadn’t gotten enough sleep over the past few nights because my littlest was sick and turns out she’s quite needy when not feeling well.  She was exceptionally clingy all day and just crying the whole morning.

My second son was also just really needy all day too.  Wouldn’t play, wanted me to entertain him every second.  Just stuff like that.  Pair exhaustion with really whiny, clingy, needy kids and it makes for a very frazzled me.

So later in the day as my husband was driving home from work, I was in my room talking to him on the phone and crying a little.  Probably saying how hard of a day I’d been having and how drained I feel, but also that I’m struggling with guilt because I’m not filled with all the happy fuzzy mom feelings that I think I should be feeling.  All around just feeling like a failure.

Well, little did I know, my oldest son was in the room next door and heard what I was saying. After I hung up with my husband, in comes that 7-year-old and throws himself on me giving me the biggest hug ever.  I asked him what was that for?  And he said “I’m sorry you had such a rough day mom.  I love you.”

I of course start crying and say it’s ok buddy, I’m just tired.  I then just start encouraging him to never lose that compassion and sensitivity.  I tell him that sometimes boys think they need to be real tough and that I love that he’s sensitive.  I tell him to never change that, that it’s how God created him.

Well now my son is starting to cry.  My seven-year old little boy.  I say “Why are you crying honey?”  And he hugs me tighter and says, “I feel like a good son.”

“I feel like a good son”  So simple, so true.  He is a good son.  He knew in that moment that he was okay just as he was.  That he is a sensitive little guy, that he doesn’t take risks, that he isn’t as brave as some of him friends climbing high on the jungle gym. That he’s compassionate and kind.  In that moment, he felt proud of who he is and it made me so happy to hear him say those words.  It actually made me proud of him even more.

God spoke to me in that moment that He views us the same way.  As christians we are taught so often on humility and trying to always be humble.  I fully agree with this concept and charge to us through scripture.  We are supposed to be humble and give the glory to God.

But honestly in the striving to always be humble, I’ve sacrificed my confidence.  I’ve traded knowing who I am, for putting myself down as to “not get a big head.”  That’s the problem. We are so afraid to become arrogant that we aren’t even sure of who we are anymore.

What happens is that when I start to recognize my strengths and talents and feel proud of them something inside tells me that’s not right, that I need to make sure I’m not becoming arrogant so I sabotage my confidence in the name of “humility”.

But in that moment with my son, I felt the pride of a mom who sees the innocence of my boy knowing he is good and being proud that he is who he is and I didn’t see it as arrogance one bit.  I saw it as confidence and security in his identity as my son.  I didn’t feel the need to “put him in his place” or knock him off his “high horse”.  Not for a moment did I think he was too cocky.

That is what God was speaking to me.  That he wants us to be secure in our identity as His children even to the extent of being proud of who He’s made us to be.  That’s not arrogance, that’s confidence and knowing that we are His and He sees us as good.

It made me see into the heart of God for His children just for a moment.  That us being content with our gifts, happy with who we are made to be, brings Him joy.  Makes Him feel proud of us even more.

It’s quite simple.  Knowing that we are His children and allowing Him to love on us and give us gifts, show us favor, use our talents and not feel bad about it.  Isn’t that an interesting concept?  Feeling His love, accepting that love, and feeling proud that we are His.

That’s the kind of daughter I want to be.  Proud of who He’s made me to be, and proud to be His.

 

 

Taking from God

I want you to know today that is OK for you to take from God.  What I mean is that there are seasons we go through that leave us depleted and empty and weak and in those seasons God wants to pour out His spirit on you and for you to come and be filled by Him.  And that requires “taking” from Him.

I asked God to use my words today for my readers.  I want to encourage and remind you of His goodness and absolute ability to fill you up with every single thing you need.  And that He is more than ok with you taking from Him.

I am in a season where I just don’t have much to give.  I am having some pretty serious health issues stemming from my autoimmune diseases and stress is the main culprit.  I am extremely tired all the time, I am inflamed with constant pain, I’m not stable in my moods, I am depleted of many nutrients and minerals I need.  I’m just not feeling well.  And therefore, just doing the regular mom/wife/human tasks are hard right now.

Obviously, stress is unavoidable in life.  I have 3 kids, we have financial burdens, we have things that break and sickness is stressful.  You can’t really get away from stress completely but I’m learning how to cope with it all.  And coping with it all requires me to take.  I’m not meaning to become selfish and drain the people around you.  I mean drawing from the source, from God.

Yesterday I was driving to work and listening to worship music and praying.  I was apologizing to God for not doing much for Him lately.  I was feeling guilty and like I have been purposeless.  I felt Him immediately say to me, “How can you give what you don’t have?  I want you to take from Me right now. I want you to stop trying to pour out from your emptiness.  You have nothing to give and I give you permission to take all that you need from me, because I do have a specific purpose for you and I need you to be full again so you can pour out. Stop trying to give and start taking from me.”

Obviously, I started crying, (If you haven’t noticed, I am QUITE the crier ;) and felt immediate relief.  What a relief to let go of the guilt and shame. He gives me permission to be still.  He gives you permission to take all that you need from Him in your weakness, in your struggles, in your pain.  And says to in His word.  “Come to Me and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

We put such a responsibility on ourselves to do so much and give so much and it becomes a burden sometimes that God never intended us to carry.  It then becomes a works mentality that drives our relationship with God and leaks into our relationships with people.  The pressure to do enough and be enough and give enough so that we are worthy.

But I’m finding that I’m trying to do it all on my own.  I don’t just come to God and allow Him to fill me up and then send me out.  I skip the first part and just send myself out and busy myself and feel like a failure all the while.

I believe that God does have purpose for us and that there is much work to do, but sometimes we aren’t well enough to do the work and that’s because we’ve skipped the most vital part.  The resting in Him, the being fed by Him, the allowing His healing to be completed first.

In practical terms, if you never sleep, you can’t work.  If you never eat, you have no strength. If you are sick, you infect others.

It’s time to rest in Him, be filled up by Him, and allow His healing to take place.  And I’m telling you today that it is OK.  You don’t have to feel guilty or ashamed.  You don’t have to feel like a failure or useless.  He’s giving me permission.  And if you are in a similar season, He’s giving you permission too.

Philippians 4:19 “You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, according to the riches of His glory in Jesus Christ.”

 

What If?

I texted a friend today because I was thinking of her.  I asked her how she is.  We texted back and forth and it was pleasant.  A few minutes later she sent me a long text saying the truth.  She opened up about dealing with depression and feeling inadequate.  She said she knows God loves her and she’s trying to be content but she has such a hard time believing her worth.

It got me fired up.  In a good way.  Because you know what, I feel the same way most of the time.  And so do a lot of my other friends.  And so does most of the world.  I started encouraging her all while preaching to myself. And then I sat down and started writing…

This is what I know.  As humans we have been told things about ourselves that make us question our worth.  If you encounter other people at all in your life, then someone at sometime has made you feel rejected or not valued.  You have been criticized at some point and been told you aren’t good at something.  It just happens.  It’s part of life.

But what I know is true in my own life is that I hold on to those words and tuck them away in my heart.  I believe them to be true and then save them for a rainy day.  A day when I feel lonely.  A day when I feel unloved or unappreciated.  I save them for the breakups and when I lose my job. A day when I feel like I’m not enough.  I save them for a day the scale is up and not down.  I save them for the days I fail.

And then one little thing happens and I pull out all of those negative words and start speaking them to myself.  They are words from 20 years ago and from 2 days ago.  They are words from people who aren’t even in my life and people who I still call close.  They are words that maybe held a little truth and words that held no truth at all.  But I use all the words for ammo against myself.

I think we give Satan a lot of credit for trying to destroy our sense of self-worth and confidence but what I’ve come to realize is he doesn’t even have to do much work because I am doing a good enough job of roasting myself on a regular basis.

Now I believe that the devil is the master deceiver and will lie to us and try to destroy us by keeping us insecure and beat down.  The last thing he wants is for us to be truly free.

But what if?  What if we started saying all the positive things to ourselves that have been spoken over us? What if I started to affirm myself the way that God is trying to affirm me all the time?  I’ve been told that I’m beautiful, that I’m a good singer, that I’m an awesome mom, that I am confident and bold.  I’ve been told that I’m fun and funny.  I’ve been told lots of lovely things throughout my whole life that I need to repeat to myself every day.

Because I think if we start replacing those lies with lovely truths about ourselves, we will find less and less ugly words to use to destroy our own selves.  When I hear that voice say, “you’re fat” and I immediately argue with that voice and say “Then why does my husband think I’m beautiful? That’s a lie, I am not fat, just soft ;)”  Or “you will never amount to anything” to “That’s not true, I am able to do whatever I want because I am full of determination and I’m driven”.  I’m pretty sure those lies would stop right there and I would be full of confidence.  Wouldn’t you?

Readers- here is my charge to you…. just try it.  Do it for a week.  When you hear the negative words from your past come up argue with them.  Speak positive things over yourself and if you feel like you don’t have anything positive to say then email me (bestillbeloved@yahoo.com)  and I will give you gobs of truths about yourself.  I love to encourage so it would be my pleasure!

Can we do a better job at doing this to ourselves but also to those in our lives?  I don’t want to tear down people, I want to build them up because I think we do a pretty good job tearing ourselves down!  Let’s all try to love better.  It starts with yourself!