Anxiety and Trust Can’t Coexist

When I was eight years old I remember laying in my bed at night and crying over all the possible things that could go wrong. I cried for every person I knew that smoked because what if they died of emphysema? I’d stay up worrying about if my baby brother would grow up to like me, and I’d fret about mosquitos giving me AIDS (no joke, I was terrified!). I was never a risk taker in my teen years, too many things could go wrong. My biggest risky behavior was to drive a tad over the speed limit… and I got busted for it WAY too many times!

Fast forward to becoming a mother, and this anxiety hits in the deepest depths of my mind. I’ll never forget that moment that I first had the overwhelmingly panicky, fearful moment. My oldest child (only child at the time) was only about 7mo old and we were driving along Mammoth Mountain in California. The snow had piled so high along the sides of the road that the road was narrow and the cliff was right there! It was beautiful… to some… to me it was our death trap! The higher we drove on the mountain, the more I glanced back at my baby, and the more scared I became until finally I blurted out, “TAKE ME HOME!!! I WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE, NOW!” I shocked my husband and myself.

I do not have anxiety at a clinical level. But I have moments of complete fear, to the point of tears, and I begin to lose sleep over all of the what ifs. Last night was one of those nights. In about 3 weeks we’re returning to one of my kids’ favorite places, and one of my biggest fears. Wisconsin Dells. You see, for people like me, large crowds and 4 kids spark anxiety. Swimming pools spark anxiety. Add those things together and you’ve got it, I’m up at night with anxiety filled dreams, and a list of what ifs a mile long.

But, this isn’t our first time to Wisconsin Dells’ crowd filled, death traps upon death traps of water slides and pools (sorry… ), and it most likely won’t be my last. I made a decision a long time ago, as I’ve been dealing with this for 13 years now, not to allow this issue of mine to rob me of the wonderful fun my family has. It isn’t easy. My dreams are vivid, life-like, and scare me to the point of tears almost every single night leading up to this trip… but they won’t overcome me.

Anxiety and trust cannot coexist. If I want to honor God by trusting him with the things most valuable to me, my kids, I have to take captive every single anxious thought. Trusting God is not as easy as typing that out. It takes practice, discipline, and constant attention to the destructive thoughts that come in order to push anxiety like mine aside and choose to trust God.

Many people do not like this idea. They don’t believe they have control over the thoughts that come in their minds. They take the motto of “It’s too hard” instead of “Be anxious for nothing”. And to be honest, it offends them to read something like what I am typing. When we struggle to overcome something, the last thing we want to hear is that our trust in God is wavering. But there is the truth, and that’s what we have to look at. Anxiety and Trust cannot coexist. And in the midst of a late night battle with anxiety I have to make the choice to either dwell there, give into the thoughts, and feed the anxiety or to trust God to care for and protect my mind, and ultimately me and my children.

“But it’s so hard! The thoughts are so strong, and constant. HOW can I possibly drive them out!?”

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. -2 Corinthians 10:5

So, First, read the Word of God and BELIEVE it when it says “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6-8 MSG)

You have to replace the anxious thoughts with God trusting thoughts. Believe me there may be days where this is ALL you do in your mind. It’s gruelling, but SO worth it. In the NLT it says, ” Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Part of this process is to remember ways God has protected you, cared for you, and met your needs.

When my 2nd daughter was born I had a hard time laying her in her bed and leaving the room for the night. I was going through a really rough time, we had moved from CA to WI and had no jobs to support us. I was having some trust issues with God and one night when I simply could not pull myself away from her bedside I sat on the floor and cried. I said, “God! How can I trust you when we have no car, we have no jobs, and now two kids, what are you doing here!?” and right there on the floor of my infants room I hashed it out with God. He won of course reminding me of every time he’s met my needs. He reminded me that when I don’t trust, I pull away. And when I pull away, I put an unsafe distance between me and God. God never moved, but I took steps away. And once I began to thank Him for all He’s done, that peace surrounded me and I could trust my daughter in His hands.

I prayed that if something truly warranted my attention that I’d know the difference between anxiety and a call to action. That has proven itself many times over now and I know the difference in the feelings.

After two miscarriages and finally a very difficult pregnancy and an even more difficult birth of our 3rd child,  I found out I was pregnant with my 4th. Fear began to creep in. And I chose to not live in fear. So I took this verse in Philippians and put it to practice. Every fear that came up, every what if that tried to steal my joy, I turned into prayer. For example: When I did not feel sick one morning after having severe morning sickness the day before, instead of freaking out because my experience told me that meant miscarriage, I prayed, “I’m so thankful that I feel so good today, Lord. Thank you for the reprieve, but I’m scared. I’m scared that this is a sign of miscarriage, please take care of my baby. I give this baby to you for you hold his future in your hands. I TRUST you and will choose to trust instead of fret.” I did this many times a day. My delivery was so horrible with baby #3 and I’d fret the delivery of # 4 almost every day of the pregnancy, but I turned them into prayer EVERY.SINGLE.TIME until that peace came over me… and that delivery was the easiest of all 4. It was so good!

So I think of those times and I remind myself that God has taken care of our family from the very beginning and he will not stop now. When I wake up at 4am riddled with dream after dream of my children drowning or getting lost, or kidnapped while at the Dells, I get myself up and pray myself through immediately, even if that means missed sleep tonight… tomorrow will be better.

I also pray the scriptures. I believe the Word of God is true. And so I pull out a few scriptures and I pray out loud the TRUTH over my fear. I put my kids’ names in the spots where it makes sense…

Lord, I look up to the mountains—
For my help comes from there. 
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
 
He will not let My children stumble;
the one who watches over them will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over my children
never slumbers or sleeps.
 
The Lord himself watches over them!
The Lord stands beside them as their protective shade.
 sun will not harm my children by day,
nor the moon at night.
 
The Lord keeps them from all harm
and watches over their lives.
The Lord keeps watch over them as they come and go,
both now and forever. (Psalm 121, bold print = changes)
I fill my mind with prayers of trust until there is no room left for thoughts of anxiety. And to be honest, this took me 90 or so minutes last night. It’s NOT easy… but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
God is a sympathetic God. None of us are perfect, and we’re all given our own set of struggles to overcome. God does not leave us to do this alone! He’ll walk each step with is.
For some anxiety isn’t an issue, for others, it can be a cancer. And just like cancer treatments can be aggressive, so must our course of action to overcome fear and anxiety. For some it’s not the safety of their children, but their checkbook, they fear and fret every time it’s time to pay the bills. They lose sleep over how they will put food on the table. For others it may be the drive to be perfect in all they do. They fear making mistakes and they live in this constant pull between the impossibility to be perfect, and their anxiety over beating that impossibility. Although the symptoms are different, the cancer is the same… and the treatment will always be to CHOOSE to be anxious about nothing and pray about it all.
I suspect this won’t be my only night where I have nightmares. I have 3 weeks before we have the time of our lives at the Waterpark Capital of the World. And I’ll need to up my prayer time each day we are there, but I’m committed to choose peace and trust. It’s what the Word says to do.
Below are a FEW scriptures you can turn to prayer as you choose to overcome your anxiety. I got this set from a bible.com (youversion App) reading plan called, “Praying through the Scriptures: Anxiety” I keep this plan on my phone at all times so if I’m struggling I know where I can find some good solid scriptural prayers. I know there’s more out there, feel free to share them in a comment!
I’m praying for YOU, too. Anxiety can be debilitating. Don’t dwell in it (it’ll grow!) instead, choose trust. And remember Trust and Anxiety cannot coexist.
  • Matthew 6:25-34
  • 1 Peter 5:7-11
  • Philippians 4:4-7
  • Proverbs 3:5-8
  • Psalm 46
  • 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

 

And if you think about me during the week of June 17th-20th, lift me up in prayer. I would never want to ruin this week of fun for my family because of my lack of trust. I have always enjoyed myself in years past, and I plan to do it again this time.

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For the Sake of the Neighbor’s Salvation

 

How many of you know that the world and it’s moral compass is proof that Jesus is coming soon! We’re seeing a lot of scripture truly come to life and we need to heed the warning. Let’s take a look at  1 Timothy chapter 4

This chapter starts off with the warning from the Holy Spirit that some will turn away from the faith of Jesus Christ. Falling away comes in many different forms. One can give up completely, turn their backs on God, and profess atheism. One can begin to believe lies that the world tells them, and begin making up their own Jesus. So they no longer worship the TRUE Jesus, but a made up version, a false version… which is idolatry at it’s sneakiest. Or, one can continue coming to church, continue preaching to the world the true Jesus… but live in complete contrast to Him. They hold the truths in their hands and not their hearts. They say all the right words, but act not a one of them. Their conscience is dead, what once convicted them, no longer applies… to THEM, others, sure, but not THEM.

This is Satan coming to kill, steal, and destroy! His goal is to Kill our salvation, steal our purpose, and destroy our witness. And in the end times, we can’t afford for this to happen!


Timothy was a pastor, but this chapter wasn’t included in the Bible strictly for pastors. God wants our eyes to be open to be doing the work as well. Has anyone ever seen a baby bjorn. Has anyone seen THIS 

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This is how many Christians expect to live. Your pastor is NOT going to get in a man bjorn and follow you around. You can’t strike up a conversation with your grocery clerk and then turn your back and say, “Now my Pastor will invite you to church!” You can’t pack your Pastor up for every family gathering and let him do the witnessing for you. He can’t live YOUR life and influence YOUR circle. As much as most Pastors LOVE bbq, they can’t be at each one of your houses talking to your neighbors while you grill! YOU must step up, you MUST start inviting people to church, or the Church (capital C) will die. You MUST tell others about the AMAZING, AWESOME, LIFE CHANGING SAVIOR OF THE WORLD! I can not emphasize this enough! This is not optional.

But here’s the good news. God never reveals a problem that is too big for Him to solve. And right here in this chapter (and really all throughout the Bible), he gives us the HOW. How do we tells others, enhance our witness, and become effective Christians?

One… You must be anchored in God’s word. Paul says To be Nourished by the message.  The Bible is truth. It is 100% solid. It will give you ALL you need. Arguing over whose faith is right, or fighting against false teachings in a unloving way is never needed. Don’t waste your time. Instead, as verse 7 says, “train yourself to be godly.” Turning your focus on yourself, and your own relationship will win others to Christ WAY faster than pointing out all their wrongs. The healthier you are, the healthier example you set for the neighbors/community around you.

Secondly,  you must train for godliness.  Yes. Exercising is important. Building muscles keeps us going in life. The stronger your muscles, the better your endurance, metabolism, and even mental health are.  There’s no argument that it’s very important. However, the Bible doesn’t speak to a vigorous physical exercise regimen… but it is VERY clear that training for godliness is a must.

This word “godliness” in verse 8 means to have the character and attitude of God– We aren’t made in the image of Arnold Schwarzenegger. We were made in the image of God! So, is that true in your life? Do your neighbors, your co-workers, your family see the image of God in you?

I definitely don’t have the image of a beauty queen– but I pray that in every encounter the image of God shines more beautifully to others than any tiara I could ever wear upon my head! I pray that the way I treat my husband, the way I handle telemarketers, the way I negotiate internet rates… I even pray the way I discipline my children is proof that I was made in the image of God. It won’t’ mean I won’t mess up… but it is my duty to pursue, and train myself to live in such a manner. Bodily exercise is good… for awhile, but it won’t affect eternity. It won’t go into all the world and preach the good news… but our godliness will.

It is NOT easy, and Paul does not hide that it will hard. But he, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit reminds us that we work hard and continue to struggle through this training because  Our hope is in the LIVING GOD. David challenged Goliath in the name of the LIVING GOD… and guys… he slayed the giant! When we choose the godly life, we, too can slay our giants.  We can tell the rage that lives deep down, “You come at me with frustrations and stress but I come against you in the name of the LIVING GOD!” You can tell your insecurities… “You come at me with shyness and self loathing… I come against you in the name of the LIVING GOD!” You can stand there in front of your giant, whatever weapons he may bear and you can remind him that you have THE.LIVING.GOD and HE is the only weapon you’ll EVER need!

We have power! And it’s a SIN to keep it to ourselves!

We must teach these things and insist that others learn it.  I am NOT saying you beat someone over the head with your Bible, follow around after them chanting “GET SAVED OR BURN” rhetoric. You know, kids don’t learn sometimes on the first time… and sometimes not the 2nd time… and sometimes not the 3rd… or 4th… or 5th time… but we never just walk away and let them ignore the thing they HAVE to learn. Instead you continue to guide, and teach, and speak, and work it into daily life. And if we’re doing it right… we’re not doing this through beating them. Haha. So, we don’t beat people over the head, but we don’t neglect teaching them either. Teaching is more than just preaching, too, by the way.  We show them with our lives, we point them towards Jesus in how we talk to them. We pray for our neighbors and not gossip about them. We seek God’s direction, and we invite grocery clerks to Church. Or we pray with a grieving co-worker. We stand up for the weak, and live out our convictions, even when no one else agrees. You don’t HAVE to preach… but you do HAVE to witness!

There are NO excuses. Timothy was young– but was still called to be an example. So what is your excuse?
If you spoke them out, how ridiculous would they sound?
I did this. I stood at an alter where I felt God was wanting to use me, but I’d held back. And I said out loud my excuses… Are you like me as I stood there and said,
“I’m too fat to approach people and tell them about God.”
Ummm, yeah, where is THAT in scripture?
“I’m just too shy, I’ll stumble over myself if I try to witness.”
“God, I sin.” (Well, DUH!)
“I’m just too busy.”
When you HEAR yourself saying something so outlandish it should resonate with you that you’re just stalling. And you’re giving the enemy a footstool.

 We are called to point others to the saving Grace of Jesus fearlessly and let God do the rest! Paul told Timothy to “preach” through example– preach by the words you say but also HOW you say them–
Preach not just in how you live, but by how you enhance the lives of others.
Preach not by declaring that you go to Church, but instead SHOW them why you can’t stay away!

Preach in the way you live, in the way you love, in how deeply you live out your faith and how pure you are (vs 12). And do all of this by focusing on the scripture, encouraging and teaching others what the Word says.  

We mess up when it comes to the last few verses here… and it’s funny that verse 15 starts  Give your complete attention to these matters…

Timothy was given a gift– This refers to the varying spiritual gifts given to Timothy but it’s also the same word God used to speak of the gifts He gives US! We, as I’ve said before, are made in the image of God– We were given gifts and attributes to use to reflect Him… And yet we neglect them. We live in fear instead of peace. We live defeated instead of victory, we live insecure instead of the child of the God we were created to be! Where do we see the image of God fearful? Defeated? Insecure?

Timothy isn’t the only one that has been given supernatural gifts from God– the word was written TO US! FOR US! We should trust that God will do great things through us– and we must begin to flow with the moving and leading of the Holy Spirit. We must throw ourselves into this task so that everyone will see the progress as verse 15 says.  We need to  Give it our all. We can’t afford to live a passive Christian life. Other’s salvation is at stake.

People are staying away from church because they don’t see the point. The church going people they see are the same as the bar going people. They see anger outside… AND inside the church. They see a world full of hate, division, and pain… and unfortunately… so VERY unfortunately, they see it inside the church.
But maybe one of the most detrimental to the church is that lack of power they see when they look at the church. We’re so passive that they don’t see a reason to change.

Paul is speaking from experience here. No one could accuse Paul of living a passive Christian life.

 1 Corinthians 15:10 says But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.  Paul knew spiritual growth didn’t just happen, we MUST actively pursue it.

We can have a saved soul– I mean, we’ll make it to heaven– but we can waste it in the process.

I mentioned at the beginning Satan’s goals for us. Kill, steal, and destroy… but what is God’s goal?
TO HAVE AN ABUNDANT LIFE! A powerful, effective life!  All of this culminates in this last verse in 1 Timothy
Why does all of this matter? Your salvation is at risk… but also

For the Sake of the Neighbor’s Salvation, you MUST take your faith outside the church walls and into your own sphere of influence.

If you are saved, and you’ve made that choice, the angels in heaven rejoice because of it, but… for the sake of the neighbor’s salvation you can NOT stop there. Your world needs salvation, too. Your living, your teaching, your witness saves people.
Satan knows that many solid Christians are pretty solid in their faith. He has probably figured out by now that he won’t get some of you to denounce Christ. So he shifts his purpose and works diligently to make you ineffective. If he can get you to look just like the world, he’ll ruin your witness… and he’ll win.
If he can get you to doubt yourself, and keep you living in fear, never stepping out to speak to your family about Jesus… he wins.

We, too easily, disqualify ourselves. We fail to believe the promises written right there in HIs word– and we play right into Satan’s plan for our ineffective lives. And for the sake of our neighbor’s salvation we CAN NOT let that happen! We aren’t going to be perfect… but we ARE going to make a difference.

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost is the birthday of the Christian Church. It’s the day the believers of Jesus went to an upper room and they waited for the promised holy spirit to arrive. In order to take the church out of the building, and into the community, we need the outpouring of the holy spirit. I’ve spoken a lot of MUSTS… and as much as I don’t want to sound so bossy and demanding, I’ve felt SO strongly that it is TIME. The Church needs to be a light into the community, and it can’t be just your pastor’s responsibility. They can’t be strapped to each one of you… You don’t need them (although they ARE important parts of God’s plan here).  You NEED Jesus! You NEED His power, His influence, His witness. But you can no longer keep it to yourself. If you are unwilling to take Jesus outside of  your own personal walls, you’re neighbors are going to die, and they WILL go to hell. I don’t know another nicer way to put it. The truth is, it’s time to leave your pews and trust God for the power to take the message out.

May I challenge you? Make a commitment to 1 Timothy 4. To live a godly life as an open witness… for the sake of your salvation… and the salvation of those who hear you!

This Monday devotion was brought to you by yesterday’s Sermon at Crossroads Church. If you’d like to hear more, learn more, or clarify more, please visit our Facebook page, give us a call (507-375-5920. Leave a message if you need to) or come to our Sunday Services every Sunday at 10am. 721 Weston Ave in St. James, MN. I’ll save you a seat!

This Mother’s Day… Remember

In the past few days I’ve packed up all clothing and toys that my kids have outgrown and laid them out for a garage sale. The process went something like this…

Step 1: Start in the basement and begin pouring over all the bags and boxes that have begun to accumulate. Pull out every piece of clothing, check the tag for size so you can organize… but hug each piece in memory of the time your child ____________. Cry here and there; laugh over something that reminds you of their cute little 3-year-old voice; cry some more, and then place in the box marked with the appropriate size.

Step 2: Repeat step one, but with every single toy in the house. Get your kids involved. Be proud of them for downsizing, but question them when they want to sell their most prized toy. Then cry when they say, “I’m done with that.” Try talking them into just a few My Little Ponies, or just one tiny collection of the “Super Heroes”. But ultimately box them up, tears and all. (Maybe sneak a few out of the box for future grandkids).

Step 3: Take your boxes to the garage where the sale will be held. Get a friend to join in your misery. As you take each piece of clothing out, tell your friend about the memory that each and every piece of clothing and toy brings to your mind. Cry. Listen to her memories. Cry some more. Tears with friends is acceptable!

Step 4: Begin to sell all your sweetest momentos one by one, 50 cents at a time. Tell the buyers all the cute stories each item brings to mind. Hold back tears. Tears with customers seems less than acceptable.

Step 5: Relive the experience, regret selling some things, and steal back a few items that did not sell… but most importantly close your eyes, have yourself an ugly cry (this is MOST acceptable!) and remember just how amazing this journey of Motherhood is.

Every memory, every feeling, every emotion those clothes and toys bring will STILL be there even when the items belong to someone else… because you never sell the memories.

Being a mother is such a crazy thing. We can love so strongly, get frustrated so easily, forgive instantaneously, and somehow manage to retain a lifetime of memories (x4 in my case).  These memories we have of our children may blend once in a while, “One of them use to say ‘Frog’ in the cutest way!” but others are so vivid in our minds, like how my son had his very own “Baby Spot” where he’d lay next to me in the middle of the night. He’d crawl into our bed, curl up in the curve of my body, and tell me that’s where he used to live, it was his “baby spot”.

We can relive panic moments like they happened yesterday, like when my son crashed into the wall at age 3 and exposed skull, and TONS of blood. I panicked. But then something kicked in and I immediately went calm and said, “I got this, I’m a mom!” And 13 stitches later, I felt that God had equipped me for motherhood.

We may not always remember each kid’s exact birth minute (sorry, I just can’t remember after baby 3… poor 4th born!), but we’ll remember the crazy giggles to the silliest things, like how funny my daughter thought she was at age 2 when she stole my cell phone and took pictures of the floor. Each click sound she heard brought a wave of mischievous laughter (which was contagious!)

We may choose to forget the mounds of laundry, although they may be a nightmare that haunts us for the rest of our lives… but we’ll never forget the sweet night-time smiles our babies give us in those wee hours of the night. My sweet daughter gave me many many smiles in the 18 times a night that she’d wake.

These memories, whether heart-warming, lesson-learning, self-encouraging, or life-giving will hold us in times of panic, frustration, exhaustion, and discouragement. They are God’s way of reminding us that these babies of ours, no matter how old they get, were given to us as a blessing for us. We become better humans because of them. We grow in patience, wisdom, endurance, and calmness. God helps us remember how He brought us through the sleepless nights of babyhood, so we can endure the sleepless nights of the teen years. God helps us recall the tantrum throwing 2-year-old emerging into a sweet and adorable 3-year-old so we can have hope as we battle with our 13 year olds. God brings to our minds the struggles and fruits of our sacrifices to remind us that He can get us through the remaining years of these precious gems in our care.

But ultimately God give mamas a special place to carry memories so we can be reminded of how completely amazing, and wonderful, and precious, and glorious, and abundant this life of a mother truly is. It is the sweetest blessing!

Happy Mother’s Day!

To the Overwhelmed Mama

It’s Mother’s Day week. This either brings excitement to your mind, or dread. You may be looking forward to an amazing day planned in your honor, or you’re preparing for unmet expectations… yet again. Well, I’d like to spend a few days this week encouraging Moms with some things I’ve learned  I’m learning on this journey. I’ve only been here for 13 years, and I know there’s this entire teen-mom thing just waiting for me (x4). But for now, let me share my heart at this stage.

Being a Mom of 4 (with an extra baby 10hrs of the day), I’m a tad overwhelmed. I may make it to church in time, and have most of the kids’ hair brushed and dressed semi presentable… but the chaos that gets us there is pretty overwhelming. There’s just so much to do. Laundry, cleaning, grooming, laundry, teaching, loving, encouraging, laundry, sports, shopping, feeding, laundry, breaking up fights, cultivating family bonding, laundry… and have I mentioned the never-ending loads of laundry? Even if I have the kids do their own, our schedule does not always allow for them to finish it all in one day, so the mounds begin to form, and the digging to find clothes adds to the frustration, then Sunday comes and no one has anything decent to wear… see, I’m getting overwhelmed just talking about it. But, the Laundry isn’t the only thing on the never ending list!

We are gearing up for a garage sale. And to be honest that was all because we’re really gearing up for family to come and stay for a couple of days in our home. So that means I want the bedrooms to be “guest-ready”. The problem is that My room and bathroom is downstairs, the Fab Four sleep and have a bathroom upstairs. Do you know the destruction that goes on when there is no parent living on the 2nd floor, just room after room of unorganized, hoarding, slime making kids!? If you don’t know… you don’t want to! It can get bad!

But I have to be honest, checking 4 bedrooms (oh how I’m blessed that each kid has their own room!!– But it can appear to be a curse!), 4 closets, a bathroom, a hallway, and the stairs EVERY DAY on top of everything else can be a tad overwhelming for me. I know that sounds lazy, and seem silly, but I also check 4 maths, 4 englishes, 4 sciences, 4 handwritings… I oversee 4 completely individualized curriculums, a baby who is here 40-50hours a week, sports schedules, doctor appointments, dentists appointments, and I’m married to the Pastor. And I don’t even have the energy to go into the work of the church.

Please hear me out, I LOVE this role as Mother (and wife, and pastor-wife). I really do! But, it can get so overwhelming. And so at the end of the day, there are days I’m just glad we made it. I’m just so thankful we all have smiles on our faces as I drag myself to the bottom step, cuddle them all, pray over them all, and send them to their beds. And as I lounge on that bottom step thanking God for those amazing little blessings, I snarl my upper lip, let out a sigh of exhaustion, and say, “Oh MAN, I forgot to check their rooms!”

So, day after day of that, when I FINALLY do check rooms, they are such a mess! And I drop my shoulders in despair as emotions of failure, inadequacy, incompetence and overwhelming unworthiness sweep over me. I can not mange bedrooms, I must be a failure as a mother! Lie number one!!!

Boy, did that escalate fast! But it’s true. We somehow equate being a good mother with how well we manage all the things that are piled on us day in and day out. We let messy playrooms, bedrooms, faces, and bottoms determine our self-worth. And just when we conquer managing the bedrooms, we notice those pesky stairs! HOW in the WORLD do stairs get so incredibly messy!?

But, that’s a LIE. Our success in motherhood has nothing to do with getting our kids to sports on time. It isn’t found in the cleanliness of our kids ears, or thank heavens the amount of times we’ve actually scrubbed that kids’ toilet!

You are a great mom because you love your kids. You are a great mom because you are pursuing a good life for your children. You are a good mom because you protect them, encourage them, love on them, and nurture them. You are their mother! Not their maid! And God has given you these blessings, not to overwhelm you, but to draw you closer to Him. My prayer life has increased exponentially since having children… even more so the more kids I’ve had.

Motherhood isn’t the most glamorous job in the world, but there is no better calling on this earth! And God never expected you to do this alone. I wake each morning and hit snooze on my alarm. It’s only 5 min, but I bombard heaven in those 5 minutes. I ask for patience, endurance, and a measure of Grace. I pray against the urge to be perfect, and for a peace to calm my overwhelming tasks throughout the day. I pray for my kids, and their walk with God that day, and I ask God to help them help me. It’s not a lengthy prayer, but it’s my way of reminding myself that it’s not my responsibility to walk this day alone. It puts before me the fact that God is on my side, desires for me to walk in His will, and will help me to do so. This doesn’t mean I don’t pray throughout the day as well… believe me, I am doing it often. “HELP, GOD!” “Protect this child!” “Oh God, I’m glad you love them! Remind them that I do, too!” and many many “Please forgive me, Lord” prayers! But nothing rejuvenated me more than that 5min prayer before I put my feet on the floor each morning.

Mama, be encouraged today! Know that God wants you to raise your kids in His love, and if you have to skip room checks in order to do that, then so be it… Just know even in the midst of the many sports trips, doctor visits, late night feedings, and all the ever-loving trash that comes along with motherhood, Jesus is walking this path alongside of you. He desires your company, and relishes in leading you as you raise these precious blessings He gave you. He chose this calling for you, He won’t fail to equip you to do it.

Praying for each of you lovely mamas this Mother’s Day. mothers-day

For those in the St. James, MN area, Crossroads Church will be starting up a Parent support gathering. These nights will be laid back nights for parents to come and meet other parents. If you are in the area, we’d love for you to join us. We will all be in different stages of parenthood… but we’ll share the same overwhelming feelings that come with the journey. June 10th at 6:00p will be our first gathering. If you’d like more information, please like our Facebook page so you can receive updates as the date comes closer.  Feel free to call the church office for more details as well. 507-375-5920 (leave a message if you want a call back)

Christians, Have You Been Sleeping?

Have you heard of the story of Jonah? You know the guy who was swallowed by a big fish and lived to tell the tale? It’s a great story of God’s provision even in the midst of… well, being in the stomach of a fish! But, even before his 3 days in the digestive track, he was in the pit of despair. Jonah was running from God. How is it that a prophet, someone who was chosen for such a grand task for God, could refuse to tell the people of Nineveh about the God he served?

Some of us are not too different from Jonah.

So here’s the beginning of the story in a nutshell… Jonah is told to go to Nineveh to tell them about God. Jonah HATES the idea, the people there are not jews, and Jonah is not too thrilled about telling them about HIS God. So he jumps on a boat sailing in the opposite direction. He finds a nice cozy place down in the hold of the ship and goes to sleep. Meanwhile there is a storm blowing. Violent winds were threatening to break the ship apart.

Now, how is it that Jonah could sleep so soundly? How is it that a man of God can be actively running, and yet so easily fall asleep… and even sleep through the violent storm shaking his boat?

Same way Christians today do the same thing. There are christians that are sleep walking. They are talking in their sleep, laughing and crying, and living… but their completely dead to the world around them.

Jonah maybe closed his eyes this time, but he’s been sleeping for a while. He turned his back on what God asked him to do, coming up with his own way for doing things. So when God didn’t do it HIS way, he high-tailed it out of there. He was dreaming if he thought God would ignore this.

Back to our story… While the storm is raging, the sailors are scared to death! They are trying every god they can think of. They are asking these gods to stop the storm… Their gods are fictitious. They don’t exist, they have no power. So of course they do not work. They are throwing cargo over, doing everything they can think of to keep from dying. All of them, crying out to gods who could do nothing, all while there was a man on board who had a relationship with the One True God… but was sleeping.

Christians!!! There is a storm in our world. Violent storms of sin, and pain, and hopelessness, and anxiety, and depression, and fear, and crime, and hate are threatening to break lives apart… and you’re lying there sleeping. You are the one who knows the redeemer, the hope-giver, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the peaceful One, the loving One… and you’re sleeping in the hold of the ship! Jonah slept while people fought for their lives… Christians! The world needs our message, and our testimony, it’s time to WAKE UP!!

The Captain of the ship finds Jonah and asks him to pray to his God, the ONE TRUE GOD. It’s their last-ditch effort, but they’re hanging on to a thread of hope. Jonah had the one who could deliver! We hold the truth, are we living it? The world may never come to us like the captain of this ship did.  If we lay around snoozing until they do, we’ll miss out. We won’t be apart of their journey, and their journey may end with the storm!

So, Jonah wakes up, the crew figure out that it’s Jonah’s fault that the sea is raging. They learn of his sin and since the storm was getting worse they desperately ask him what they should do now. I mean, come on, if the one person who claims to know God is causing the storm, what is there left to do!?

Christians, when we sleep through this life and pretend we’re fine… we are causing storms all around us. We are causing others to question our God. We are causing others to stumble as they try to stand upright through the torrential winds of life. How many times have we heard, “I don’t go to church because there are too many hypocrites there.” Although there are many flaws to that reasoning, it’s true that there are too many christians forgetting to live what they say they believe. They are  sleep walking. And they are a danger to the world around them.

Jonah decided he needed to be thrown into the sea. He knew God, he was just not living what he believed. He knew that God could fix it. Not just the storm, but HIM. He knew that the storm was his fault, and he acted in order to remedy the situation. It’s probable that Jonah repented at that moment. He woke up, and in order to save the people in his boat, he was willing to be thrown overboard.

It’s never too late to WAKE UP! There may be damage done, but you can make a difference in the lives around you. You can still decide not to ignore those hurting around you. Maybe you ignored the problem for years, and you’re too ashamed to admit that you’ve slept right through their issue. You can still throw yourself at the mercy of Jesus, and let Him wake you up.

HOW DO YOU WAKE UP!?

  1. Have a thorough consciousness of the reality of the world around you. Don’t turn a blind eye, pray for those lost in sin. Open your eyes to those hurting, and hopeless. Acknowledge that hate exists, and that people are falling into storms of anxiety and depression on a daily basis.
  2. Believe that the comforter CAN comfort those you see hurting in the world. And then ACT! Don’t be like Jonah and withhold the knowledge of God from a dying world.
  3. Serve God. Don’t stop because the storm is raging. It’s time to start living what we believe. When life is hard, when God asks more of us than we think we can do, serve God.  When trials come, Serve God. When things don’t work out the way you intend, serve God. You’re the Christian! You know the power of God, so don’t just believe it… ACT!

Jonah was thrown into the sea. And the sea suddenly fell calm. Jonah splashing into the sea showed the sailors that his faith was backed with actions. He was no longer one of those people who claim Jesus as Lord, and yet act no differently than people who have no god at all. When they saw this, they were amazed, and began serving God, too.

Our greatest evangelistic tool is not to blend in and sleep our way through the Christian life. It’s to wake up and  live a REAL Christian life. We must notice the need of Jesus in the World around us,  show them that we believe in the Jesus we claim as God, and we need to serve Him wholeheartedly. Show, with our lives, that Jesus is REAL. WAKE UP, Live bold, and awaken those around you!

Christians, we can’t sleep through this. We must “Go into all the World…” And if they catch us sleeping, we can lose them. Don’t worry, He promises to be with us always…

We, are not alone. Although Jesus IS enough, He isn’t asking us to do it alone. Find some good Christian friends who are AWAKE, and serving well. Surround yourself with the fellowship of other believers. And, let’s keep each other out of the belly of a whale!