When Your Prayers Don't Make It Past the Ceiling


The last few months have been hard for me. 

When we suffered the miscarriage of twins back in May, I spent a lot of time angry at God. In truth, I don't know that I ever fully recovered from my c-section with Little Bear over a year ago. 

You see, back then I desperately wanted to go into labor on our own. I didn't want a c-section. I knew it was within God's power to send me into labor and deliver a healthy baby, but He didn't. Instead I ended up with a crazy induction story and an emergency c-section. I was convinced it was because God choose not to answer my prayer. 

Then just a few short months ago I pleaded with God to give us two healthy babies. I'd only known they existed for a few short days before we lost the first baby. It just felt pointless. Then we lost the second baby only a week later. It felt like my prayers never made it past the ceiling. God simply wasn't listening to me. 

So I just stopped talking to Him. 

I avoided my Bible. I never let my house get quiet. I didn't even talk to my husband about what I was feeling. I just wanted to keep myself so busy I didn't have time to grieve. 

It wasn't that I lost my faith. I just lost the relationship. I trusted God. I just didn't want to talk with Him about it. 

But the Holy Spirit was relentless (my husband is also kind of persistent when he needs to be). 

And instead of hiding out in a cave far away from every care in the world (which is what I really wanted to do), I found myself taking refuge in the Psalms. 

I read some of them over and over again. Some days I didn't feel anything. I just read them because I was supposed to. 

But over the course of a few weeks those words of comfort became a lifeline. 

Psalm 121 became one of my favorites. 

It is a Psalm of assent, a song that the Israelites would sing on the journey to Jerusalem. It's the story of a man traveling through the desert, and how God protects him, guides him, and keeps him along his journey. 

What a comfort it must have been to the people of Israel on those long weary days spent traveling. A reminder that God was with them even as the sun beat down upon their heads and their feet stumbled on hidden stones. 

And what a comfort it was to me on this journey of faith, as dry and hot as it may be sometimes. God is with me and He is guiding my path and protecting my steps. 

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2
Our help is found in looking up to see our Creator God, not in focusing on the dry valley we are walking through. 
"He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep." Psalm 121:3-4
We can rest when we are tired because our God never sleeps. His protection and provision are constant, even when we are weary. 
"The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night." Psalm 121:5-6
The Lord is always protecting us, covering us like a shadow. He protects us from the circumstances around us, in this case the sun and the moon, but also the circumstances of this world that would threaten to overtake us. 
"The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore." Psalm 121:7-8
The Lord will protect us from the enemy, and he will preserve our soul. He will preserve our faith, now and always. 

These verses became my prayer, my focus. I needed the reminder to look up. I began to focus on what God had already given me rather than those things He took away. 

It wasn't a quick fix. I still have a ton of questions. There are still things I just don't understand about the nature of prayer. 

But I'm not going to run from those feelings and doubts. I'm going to take them to the God who created the universe. The God who created me. The God who loved me enough to die for me. 

And I'm going to trust that He is good and His love is never failing.

*I've recently created a set of scripture cards highlight some of my favorite verses in the Psalms about the character of God. These verses remind me of all the good things God has done for me, and how I need to praise Him for who He is, not for what may or may not give me in this life. 

The images above are a part of that set. You can find full set of cards here. I would love to share them with you, and I pray you can use these scriptures to encourage someone in your life who may be going through a hard time. 



The Problem with Christian Superstars


By now you’ve heard about the Duggar scandal.

I’ll admit, I’ve always been a fan of the Duggars. It’s clear to me that we have a few theological differences, but I appreciate many things about their family, including the logistical genius it takes to raise 19 kids.

Like many American Christians though, I think I’m guilty of putting the Duggars on a pedestal. We watched them on TV week after week, and we saw a very edited, happy, faith-filled version of their family.

But that’s the problem really. All we ever saw was the edited version of their lives.

It’s not a problem isolated to the Duggars. I see the same thing happening with megachurch pastors, television evangelist, Christian rock stars, big name athletes, famous Bible study authors, and other normal people who make it BIG on the grounds of being a Christian.

I’m sure some of them start with good intentions. They want to reach more people for the cause of Christ. They happen to be really good at what they do and decide to use that platform to share about their faith. While it seems like a good idea at the time, it's almost always THEIR name that ends up in lights, and the name of Jesus just gets dragged along for the ride. 

Think about it. We don't watch the Duggars television show because we love Jesus. We tune in because we are fascinated by the Duggars.

And as American Christians we eat it up. We are just like our worldly friends. We love the next pop star, entertainment icon, and charismatic speaker. We treat these famous people as role models in the faith. We look to them for doctrine, education, encouragement, and inspiration.

And they let us down. At best they are sinners who (intentionally or not) paint a false picture of their goodness. At worst they are false teachers, selling heresy and false doctrine to anyone who will pay for it.

In fact, this modern model of discipleship is directly contrary to what we find in scripture.

Colossians 3:16 says this:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 
And again in Hebrews 10:24-25:
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
One more time, 1 Thessalonians 5:11:
Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
Do you see what these passages have in common? It’s the “one another.”

Christian discipleship, encouragement, teaching, worship, and edification was all meant to be done in relationship to one another.

It’s a process of give and take. Our pastors and teachers encourage us in the Word, but we also hold them accountable, examine their doctrine, and if necessary confront their sin.

Our brothers and sisters edify us with their good works. They encourage us in the faith, but we also see their sin, their struggles, and their failures.

We pray together. We sing together. And we have grace one for another.

The problem with Christian entertainment super stars is that they are primarily about entertainment. There is no relationship. There can never be a “one another.”

When we allow them to speak into our lives unguarded, we are giving them a place of prominence that God intended the local church body to have. God desires that we grow and love in relation to one another, not one well-known and well-spoken teacher to the tens of thousands.

This problem of famous Christians is a relatively new one. It's only been in the last 100 years that we have technology at our fingertips that allow anyone to be well-known around the world. 

With internet, television, movies, and social networking, we have seemingly unlimited access to people's lives, their faith, and their failures. 

We watch as outsiders, judging and commenting on someone's life with no real knowledge or understanding. 

We can't be a part of their repentance and healing. We can't support them or encourage them in their time of need. We can't even proclaim Christ and the forgiveness of sins when they need to hear it most.

It's a one sided relationship that doesn't really do anyone any good. 

That’s why our local churches are so important. Because when we sin, we have the privilege of receiving forgiveness, help, and grace from people who care about us and know us deeply.

It's also why we need to be careful. 

Careful that when we see Christians in the entertainment industry, whether it's athletics, books, television, or music, that we always remind ourselves that we don't really know them. 

Rather than idolizing them, we should pray for them. Pray that they would use their platform wisely, and that God would grant us wisdom to discern truth from error. Pray that our own faith would remain solely focused on Jesus and not the next big name in Christian living. 

And we should be careful for ourselves, that we always remember the broad reach of the internet. We may not have thousands of people following our every move, but many of us have hundreds of Facebook friends reading our status updates and the articles we share. The way we live our lives matter, especially when we put it on display for everyone to see. 

Let's strive to live in the power of Christ with godliness, honesty, and integrity. Loving one another well.

11 Bad Habits of a Stay-At-Home Mom


So a few days ago I found this article on Pinterest, "Bad Habits and Other Mistakes Stay-at-Home Moms Make."

The title grabbed me because as a stay-at-home mom I have developed LOTS of bad habits, and so of course, I was looking for some solidarity. 

However, as I read it, I realized that I must not be a normal stay-at-home mom because I don't struggle with any of these things, like worrying about not contributing financially or not find time to do nice things for myself. I'm sure there are lots of stay-at-home moms who do struggle with these things, and in that case, the article above will be a nice big boost to your self-esteem. 

But it did get me to thinking about the things in my life that really do cause me stress and frustration as a stay-at-hom mom, and I discovered that most of them have everything to do with my own bad habits. 

So today I thought I'd share with you some of MY bad habits that have come from or at least been contributed to by the fact that I stay home with my kids. 

1. Always thinking I'll have time to do something later. 

Who has time to wash those dishes now? I can do it later! That's my SAHM motto. Except I rarely have more time later. I really prefer to work when the kids are asleep, but if I put everything off until nap time or bed time, I just don't have time to do it all. Bummer. 

2. Never sitting down because I always have to get back up. 

I am always on my feet. Always. It seems like every time I sit down I just have to get up again two seconds later to get someone a glass of water or stop someone from climbing on the piano. I've found it much more efficient just to stay upright and ready for action. This plan works well except by the end of the day my feet are so sore and tired that standing up to get any house work done (you know the stuff I put off all day) is almost impossible. It's just a no-win situation...

3. Tuning out the chaos because I just don't want to deal with it. 

Being a SAHM I've developed very sensitive selective hearing. I just have to pop a pair of headphones in and I can totally ignore the chaos in the other room. There are times when this is a handy talent, but most of the time I miss important things too, like two toddlers smearing peanut butter all over their room.

4. Starting a project I know I can't finish. 

You know how it is. You head pops off the pillow and you think, "Today is the PERFECT day to organize the closets." Or clean out the shed. Or whatever. It doesn't matter what the project is, it never gets finished. I start out well, but then have to stop and clean the bathroom, make lunch, put the kids down for a nap, prep the kitchen for dinner, get snacks, take the kids outside, make dinner, and clean up from dinner. By the end of the day I don't even care if the closets are organized or not! I just want to go to bed. 

5. Dumping my kids on my husband as soon as he walks in the door. 

I've been with my kids for 7 hours or so by the time my husband gets home everyday. It's understandable that I'm ready for a break. However, abdicating all responsibility and locking myself in my room for hours isn't really the best way to say, "Welcome home, honey!" So...if you are reading this, I'm sorry dear. I'll come out of my room as soon as I finish this blog post.

6. Thinking I run the show because I'm here all day. 

My husband and I firmly believe that the husband is the head of the household. However, since I'm the one who puts in the most face time with the kids, it's easy for me to get a little high minded and assume that I ALWAYS know what's best for them. I often have to stop myself and recognize that my husband is perfectly capable of parenting my kids and even getting some laundry done if necessary. In fact, if I take the time to listen, he often has good insight regarding our kids and the best way to handle a situation.

7. Forgetting to put sunscreen on my kids. 

This one is probably not just a SAHM thing, but because we are home, we tend to be in and out of the house playing in the yard all day long. If I were a completely responsible mom, I would always remember sunscreen, but I'm not, so I don't. It's actually worked better for me to put the kids in long sleeve and make sure we play where there is plenty of shade. Then I don't have to run back inside looking for the sunscreen while my kids make a break for the street. We just love playing in the road! 

8. Not staying home. 

You would think that a SAHM would, you know, stay home, but I LOVE to go places. This is great for me and the kids, except that it can be overdone. Being busy and always in the car doesn't give my kids the true quiet playtime they need, and it doesn't help me get any housework done. Going out a few days a week is great, but I also have to make myself plan to stay home sometimes. 

9. Feeling guilty about not volunteering for everything.

I sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking that because I don't have a job outside the home, I have time to volunteer for other stuff, mostly church stuff. I actually enjoy working with people at church and getting involved, but I have a hard time planning ahead and doing the prep work at home before hand. Having young kids at home is a full-time job, with or without an actual full-time job! I can't be expected to volunteer anymore than other moms, and I shouldn't feel guilty about having to say no.

10. Spending too much time plugged in. 

I've learned that if I'm always trying to do "just one more thing" on my phone or computer, I tend to be more irritable and impatient with my kids. Not to mention I am usually wasting time and making us late for something. It's amazing how much more peaceful our home is when I am paying attention and not constantly distracted. Of course, I love being online (hence the blog!), but knowing when to unplug is important too. It's all about balance. 

11. Not making the bed. 

Why is not making the bed a bad habit? 
1. Because I am more likely to crawl back under the covers and curl up with a good book when I should be working.
2. Because my kids are more likely to crawl back under the covers after me and get crumbs all over my sheets (which GREATLY annoys my husband...). 

And yet, I'm still probably not making the bed again tomorrow...What can I say? Old habits die hard.

Do you have any bad mom habits? Tell me I'm not the only imperfect mother around here!


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