Well, it’s the final segment of my 4 part series on Living with Anxiety… Finding Peace through Anxiety. Anxiety does not have to define you. I am a Christian and I have anxiety. My anxiety doesn’t affect me every day, but it does on some days, some worse than others. I wanted to leave you all with a few verses that help give me peace when I’m in the midst of anxiety. Also, be sure to check out my post Fighting a Panic Attack: 4 Practical Tips.
Bible Verses that Help me Finding Peace through Anxiety
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
1 Timothy 1:7
“When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.”
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:6-7
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Friend, you are more than your anxiety. You are a child of God, you are cherished and loved. We live in a broken world and, unfortunately, some of us get to deal with the brokenness of anxiety and depression in our bodies. It doesn’t mean God loves you any less, or you’re a weaker person. If a person gets cancer, we would never tell them it’s because their faith is weak. Yet, some are willing to say that to those of us with the disease of mental health. It’s a double standard and it has got to stop!
If you ever need someone to listen, support or encourage you… I will be here. I am always open to lending an ear, cooking a meal or doing whatever you need to feel God’s love tangibly right now at this moment in your life. Please, reach out to someone, reach out to me! I am sure there are many others in this community who would also want to come up along side you.
I chose to title this series “Living with Anxiety” because it is possible to live with it. I still have some bad days and the odd panic attack (read my tips on dealing with a panic attack here). But I am living! I live a full life and I know God made me just the way I am. This disease is part of being in a broken body in a broken world. One day He will return to make that all right, but for now, I’ve learned the importance of seeking support. And not just seeking any support, but seeking the RIGHT support!
This post may contain affiliate links. Through not added cost to you, I may a small commission on your purchase. For more information, please see my disclosure statement.
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He willdwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
I was ashamed and embarrassed for so long about what I was going through. I really believed there was something wrong with me. Looking back, I wish I had advocated for myself more. But, that’s what anxiety and depression do. A normal thought is not normal, it’s twisted and obscured.
As I said last week in my Living with Anxiety series “Jesus & Medication”, my first episode of depression was when I was in Bible School. I believe it all stemmed from my anxiety, but I did not get the help I needed. Mental health was thought to be a weakness. It wasn’t Jesus and medication, or Jesus and counseling; It was just Jesus. I tried so hard, I really did. My roommates were amazing, but they were in their early 20’s like me. They weren’t equipped to deal with someone going through what I was going through. They prayed for me a lot and I do believe that’s what helped me get through that year.
But, what I needed was some professional help whether that be a doctor or a counselor or whatever. Even a mentor who recognized what was going on. Maybe I wouldn’t have struggled for as long as I did if I had got help the first time around. But, I’m stubborn and I just plowed through it.
Seeking the Right Support
Obviously, at Bible School, I didn’t receive the right support that I needed at that time. It’s no one’s fault, I didn’t ask either. During my second major depressive episode 4 or 5 years later, I FINALLY got to the point where I knew I needed to ask for help. I was completely broke, so I couldn’t afford anything. Our church hosted a group once a week from an organization that provided counseling and guidance services to people who couldn’t afford it. I worked up the courage to finally stop in there one afternoon. I broke down in tears. The lady I met with was so kind and compassionate on me.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t one of the counselors who met with people on a regular basis. So, I got paired up with another lady there. This did not end up being the right fit for me at all! She basically told me I wasn’t eating and was throwing up all the time because my appetite was changing, as it does when you’re in your 20’s. I was feeling so anxious because I was making some major life decisions with where I was working. Once I figured that out, everything would be fine. It was far from fine.
The Right Fit
If someone is not listening to you or even validating the feelings you are having, it is not the right support. I felt like I had no other options, so I continued going to see her until I finally decided to move back home with my parents to BC to get some real help. I hadn’t told her as I moved in kind of a whirl wind, but I remember her phoning me the week I moved home to see if I was coming in that week and how I was doing. She was shocked that I decided to move back home, what about my boyfriend? What about my job? There’s so much I wish I had said to her, but I think at that moment she finally got how serious I had been in what I was going through.
The youth pastor at my parent’s church put us in touch with a lovely, amazing counselor when I got home. I didn’t want to go, I think my Mom even drove me there for my first appointment. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made (along with marrying my husband!) Finally, someone was listening to me and validating what I was going through. And she was a Christian and helped me walk through seeing that anxiety and depression is not a weakness in my faith, but a weakness in my body. If you aren’t 100% happy with your doctor or realtor or whatever, you get a second opinion, right? The same goes for counselors; find one that truly fits what you need to get healthy.
I am always here if you feel like you need to chat with someone! Please reach out if you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or afraid. I am not a counselor, but I am more than willing to walk with you, cry with you and advocate for you. Please do not let things get too far. Your life is worth far more than that, you deserve to live a full life. Christ came so we can live life abundantly (John 10:10). You can contact me here through my about page, leave a comment below or email me at email@example.com. I want to be part of your tribe! I want to be in your corner, your biggest cheerleader, your prayer warrior!
Liz is a blogger, writer, crafter, mother and encourager… just a few of my favourite things as well! She’s all about overcoming messes, making memories and becoming masterpieces.
“I believe life is messy. I know mine is…and I’m not just talking about my craft room. But I also know that through Jesus we have the power to overcome those MESSES. I believe we can either allow our MEMORIES (the good, the bad, and the ugly) to keep us stuck or use them to catapult us along the journey of becoming just who God designed us to be. And believe me, He created each of us with unique gifts and traits suited to shout His glory in our own special way. We are all God’s MASTERPIECES.”
Liz ~ My Messy Desk
Please check out Lily’s preemie story of the Wonders of What God has Done. I pray it will be an encouragement to you of Who God is and what He can do ❤️
Shame Off You from Hiding to Healing by Denise Pass
In this vulnerable, raw and honest book, Shame Off You, Denise Pass walks us through going from hiding to healing in our shame. She uses the phrase “Shame Off You” instead of “Shame On You” that we so often use.
Denise really makes you think about shame and how it effects so many aspects of our lives. Shame is a vicious cycle that goes through condemnation, comparison, crisis and commitment. However, there is a better way, a Biblical way to work through shame; Revelation, reflection, repentance and restoration.
This post may contain affiliate links. Through no added cost to you, I may receive a small commission. For more information please see my disclosure statement. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion and review.
Denise Pass Author of Shame Off You
Shame is an assault on the core of who we are. It assassinates our character, minimizes our worth, and dashes our hope. Like Adam and Eve, we often hide shame, but hiding never heals it. Left unattended, shame can develop into a crippling reality that paralyzes us. Like an infectious disease, shame impacts everyone . . . but not all shame is bad.
Shame can either be an oppressive and powerful tool of worldly condemnation or a source of conviction that God uses to bring his people back to himself. Having the discernment to know the difference and recognize shame in its many forms can change the course of one’s life.
In a transparently honest style, Denise Pass shares of her experience dealing with shame after learning that her former husband was a sexual offender. Having lived through the aftermath, she leads you into God’s Word where you will see for yourself that God is bigger than your pain, shame, mistakes, and limitations.
Shame Off You (available from Abingdon Press) shares how freedom can be found in choosing to break the cycle of shame by learning from the past, developing healthy thinking patterns, silencing lies, and overcoming the traps of vanity and other people’s opinions.
Interview with Denise
Q: Can you start us off by sharing a little bit of your own story?
I did not realize just how significant of an impact shame had on my life until I started writing this book. I don’t think I recognized all I was experiencing in my life as shame. Shame affected me in profound ways—from worrying to the point of obsession about what others thought of me to shame from my past, present and in the future. Shame was pervasively impacting all of life: how I related to others, processed my perception of myself and responded in social situations. Shame was snuffing out my hope and life, and it felt like I had no way out.
Then in 2007, God revealed to me my (then) husband was a sex offender and some of our children were his victims. This revelation crushed us, and the ensuing shame was crippling. I had waited for marriage and married a Christian man. We were that homeschool family. It did not seem possible. But it was. Through that devastating season, my children and I drew nearer to God, reading the Bible through and clinging to His precious promises. I continued to home educate, and we put one foot in front of the other. Through a five-year long court battle. Through tragic new revelations. Through sorrow up on sorrow and financial woes. God was our God through all of it and the lessons we learned as shame lost its grip on our souls were priceless.
Now, my four oldest are all in college and walking with God, and my youngest son who I adopted from Russia is still home educated by the grace of God. And me? God brought a precious man into my life who I call my Kinsman Redeemer. There’s more about him (my “Bo”—short for Boaz) in the book.
Q: At its root, what is shame, and why is it so detrimental to us?
There are many roots underlying what we call shame. Shame is the broad term used, but there are so many things interwoven in our culture that we accept as “normal.” Shame is an accusation on our soul that says we are not enough. News flash—we are not enough—but God is. He is our righteousness and removes all of our sin and shame. Shame is peer pressure and the fear of man—we would not have shame if we did not have an audience. Shame is a label or box that imprisons our souls and steals our joy. Shame is detrimental because it gives us a false identity and keeps us from living the abundant life Jesus promises, distracting us from the mission we have been called to.
Q: What are some of the most common underlying sources of shame? Is shame always caused by a sin a person commits him/herself?
Shame is a head game that we do to ourselves most of the time, but there is also plenty of social shaming that goes on—shunning and people condemning one another. While sin invites shame into our lives as a natural consequence, shame is prevalent within our culture. We come by it naturally and so we don’t question it. Expectations cause shame to rise when we don’t meet them. Comparison. Pride. These are huge contributors to the game of shame. The presence of shame in our lives is ultimately a spiritual matter. We feel the truth behind the statement that we are not enough. We accept this condemnation, but it can become our vindication. We are not enough. That’s ok, because Christ is our Righteousness. The enemy of our souls is always accusing us, but our Savior is always interceding for us.
Q: Shame typically surrounds a situation the public is aware of, at least in the mind of the person walking through it. How can the church community be more supportive of a member suffering with shame?
Great question. We would not have shame if we did not have an audience. It is this fear of man and focus on self that makes us feel so very exposed as we seek acceptance and to snuff out rejection. In my situation, I felt like the church did not know how to handle sex abuse situations, so they didn’t. I was told to be silent. The shame culture thrives in silence. However, being able to talk about it in a God-honoring way and having support instead of isolation would take the sting out of shame and turn it on its head. When we protect the violator and silence the victims, we are propagating and promoting shame.
Q: In what ways do we intentionally or unintentionally heap shame on others?
We live in a society of labels. People try to define one another by false identities based on their performance—good or bad, or their status in this life. When we move away from our identity being in Christ, we find that our identity falls short. Shame was introduced to man in the garden of Eden. We left perfection and chose an insecure, shame-filled culture, instead. Discontent with our lot, comparison and the fear or man have robbed us confidence and plagued us with shame in all of life. Shame is also used as a tool of power by people who seek to subject others, shaming them into submission. And again, shame is in our culture, so it is fairly invisible. We just accept it as part of life, which can cause us to unintentionally continue in the shame culture.
Buy the Book
Q: How is Shame Off You set up and designed to be used?
Shame Off You is the story of a girl who shrunk her shame. It is a guide for recognizing the shame all around us and how to rid ourselves of shame biblically. There is a biblical lens of Truth, Humility and Grace that we view shame through, as well as Cycles of Shame and Redemption, a Shame Spectrum and Shame Quiz so we can evaluate how shame is impacting our lives. There is also a resource guide in the back of the book that covers 40 different common shames we might encounter along with Scriptures to combat that shame.
Shame Off You systematically covers everything from feeling shunned and rejected, to being shy, to worrying about what others thought or said about me to traumatic shame that paralyzes us.
Q: What are the steps to overcoming shame?
Shame distracts us from the mission of God and keeps us from living on mission for Christ. It causes us to focus on self and limits our worth. It hurts our relationship with God and others and causes us to live defeated, discouraged lives. It has to be dealt with. Recognizing shame’s presence is necessary to be able to deal with it effectively.
From recognition, we need to discern whether we are dealing with condemnation or conviction. Condemnation is based on works whereas Conviction is based on relationship. Once we know what we are dealing with, we need to consult God’s word and use a biblical filter to evaluate our shame and then let it go. We defeat shame not by mere words. And hiding shame does not heal it. We have to face shame and deal with it biblically to be set free. We don’t get rid of shame because it humbles us—but because it prevents us from living the abundant life Christ promises, reaching those around us.
About the author
Denise Pass, author of Shame Off You, is an award-winning CCM recording artist and singer-songwriter, accomplished writer/blogger, speaker and worship leader at women’s conferences as well as a worship leader on staff at her home church. After a crushing discovery of her former husband’s hidden life and surviving a painful divorce, she now shares an inspirational message through her ministry, Seeing Deep Ministries, about seeing the deeper truth in God’s word when life hurts.
Denise also founded and directed a home educational co-op for 12 years and engaged in many educational pursuits, including forming and directing a classical children’s choir. A graduate from the University of Maryland, Denise now resides in Virginia, with her “Kinsman Redeemer” husband and five children.
One of my biggest hurdles in getting help with my anxiety was the thought that mental health is all in our heads and we really just need to trust God more. There’s no Jesus and Medication, the answer is just Jesus. Well, believe me, I tried this for years and it was awful.
This post may contain affiliate links. Through no added cost to you, I may make a small commission. For more information please see my disclosure statement.
I was taught at a Bible School I went to that there’s no need for Jesus and… no Jesus and medication; no Jesus and counseling. All you need is Jesus. It was fine to be a diabetic and take insulin, or to have cancer and go through chemo or radiation. But, it was not OK to have a mental illness and need medication or anything else to help you overcome the illness. Looking back now, it makes absolutely no sense, but it was what I was taught and I believed it.
First Time on Medication
When I first started taking medication for depression in my early 20’s, I was chatting with a good friend (at least I thought they were a good friend) about some of my struggles I’d been having. I was having a hard time adjusting to living back at home as well as just feeling lost overall in where God wanted me. As we were chatting (this was back in the days of MSN Messenger), he basically told me I was sinning in thinking I needed more than Jesus. He said I was just taking “happy pills” and I didn’t need them. It broke my heart.
I see now that my chemical imbalances were affecting much of my thought processes, but again I didn’t know that then! This was a friend I respected a lot. Needless to say, I got off the medication about as fast as I safely could! But I knew something still wasn’t right. I searched and searched trying to find that “feeling” of having full faith and trust in Jesus. I moved across the country looking for it thinking that if I worked in a Christian organization God would see how much I trusted Him and would follow Him. Maybe then He’d see I didn’t need anything except Him and He’d set me free from my anxiety.
Jesus and Taking Medication
I don’t really know what changed in me, but it finally got so bad I had to get help. I was living miles away from my own family, I was desperately trying to do everything exactly the right away to be the best I could for Jesus, but I was falling apart. I wasn’t eating because I was too anxious, and when I did eat, I would usually end up throwing up because my stomach was just in knots! I lost 20lbs over a few months and I did not have 20lbs to lose! I was skin and bones.
I largely kept it to myself, I was ashamed and embarrassed. Finally, after some coaxing from my family and friends, I went to the doctor. She prescribed me some medication that I had been on before and I was able to find a counselor (although, not a good one… more on that next week!) It helped a bit, and I had some great support from my roommate and boyfriend and their families in Ontario, but, I was still spiraling out of control.
One day, mom my decided enough was enough and she flew across the country to come visit me. We’d been on the phone the night before and I asked her to come and she did at the drop of the hat. She mentioned that she thought I should move back home, and I finally agreed. I packed up that weekend and moved home the next week.
The thing that really helped me the most in this journey was going to a good Godly counselor. My Mom had hooked everything up before I even got home and I started meeting with her weekly the week I got home. She finally helped me to see that there is nothing wrong with taking medication to help with a medical problem.
In Mark 8 when Jesus feeds the 4000, he says in verse 2: ” I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat.” He felt compassion for his people. He feels compassion for me. He looks at me, whether I’m taking medication or not, and has compassion on me. If He has compassion on me, should I not have compassion on His people as well. And guess what?!? I’m one of His people! I need to have compassion for myself as well. I needed to stop trying to be perfect in order to gain God’s favour and I needed to accept help. Even the help of medication from medical professionals.
Becky Thompson ~ Revived Motherhood
I was recently listening to a Podcast by Becky Thomas of Revived Motherhood. It’s titled Christian Women and Anxiety. I was listening to it in my car driving to work and I was almost in tears. It spoke such truth! I was practically shouting “yes, yes, Amen sister!” in my car. Here’s the podcast:
Ep. 07 | Christian Women and Anxiety 20:59 2018-12-19 Let’s talk anxiety. How does a Christian woman walk the line of fear and faith? How do we justify what we are feeling when we know what the Word says is true? The truth is, I cannot talk about anxiety without speaking about my personal experience with it.
I was first introduced to Becky Thompson when I read her book Hope Unfolding: Grace-Filled Truth for the Momma’s Soul. My sister gave me the book and it was just what I needed to hear at that point in time as a mother of two young girls. The book and reading more about Becky at http://beckythompson.com/ is also what started me on the path of starting this blog!
You can find some of her other books on Amazon as well. I really recommend checking her out! She’s very authentic and real.
Welcome to my 4 Part Series on Living with Anxiety. This is a hard part of my story and my walk with God to share, but I feel like it is important. It’s important to end the stigma there is especially in the church, and to encourage others who may be going through something similar and let them know they are not alone. I’ve written a bit about my anxiety before (Fighting a Panic Attack ~ 4 Practical Tips) but my hope and prayer for this Living with Anxiety series are that it will help all of us be a little more compassionate to ourselves and to others whether we struggle with anxiety or know someone who does. Here is Part 1 ~ First Panic Attacks
This post may contain affiliate links. Through no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission. For more information please see my Disclosure Statement.
I just feel like it’s important to start this whole thing off with prayer.
Father God, thank you for loving us just exactly where we are and for who we are. You created each of us in Your own image and said “It is good.” I pray that the words I type here today will bless another heart. I pray that You guide me and give me the words and keep anything out that is not beneficial. In Your precious Name, Amen.
Ok, let’s get started. I clearly remember my very first panic attack. I was in grade six or seven, so around 12 years old. Of course, I didn’t realize or know it was a panic attack at the time. I just knew I was terrified and thought I was going to die.
I was winter camping with the girls group from my church. Usually, it was just the boys group that got to go, but my friends and I wanted to go so badly! Finally, after much begging (I think they finally just got sick of us asking) they said if we found a female leader to go with us, we could come. We asked the French teacher at our school, who was really outdoorsy, and she agreed to take us! Needless to say, we were super excited!!
The day finally came and we were all set to go. We got there in the late afternoon and started looking for a good place in the snow to set up camp. We weren’t sleeping in tents, just right in the snow. Our group decided to build something like an igloo to help keep us warm for the night. Most of the guys just dug out a clearing in the snow and covered it with a tarp. After having supper and s’ mores around the campfire, we headed to bed later that night. That’s when it happened.
Panic in the Night
I had a hard time falling to sleep. It seemed like all the other girls were out in no time. We squished in side by side in this snow bank basically. I started getting really hot and sweaty, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I HAD to get out of there, I was in a panic. So, I wiggled out and pulled out my sleeping bag. I was having a hard time breathing, almost like I was hyperventilating, I seriously thought I was going to die. It was so scary, but I was also really embarrassed about it for some reason. I never did go wake anyone up to help me. I ended up sleeping out under the stars in my sleeping bag trying to calm myself by regulating my breathing. By morning I was freezing.
My Dad happened to be one of the leaders on that trip. I didn’t know exactly where he was sleeping or I probably would have gone and got him in the night. I just remember going to him in the morning in tears and told him I didn’t feel good. My body felt just completely wiped out. We were supposed to ski the entire next day, I spent the day in the Lodge and in our van trying to get some sleep. Everyone kept asking if I was alright. I was ashamed to admit that I wasn’t really sick, I just freaked out during the night for no apparent reason. I’d just say I was fine, my stomach was bothering me.
Second Panic Attack
My second panic attack came a few years later. I was in grade 12, so 17 years old or so. We were on a phys-ed class overnight hiking trip. Everything had been great, the hike up to the lake we were camping at was amazing. We had to backpack everything in and out, so it was a tough hike, but we were having a lot of fun.
When we got there, we all set up our tents. I was sharing a tent with one of my girlfriends, we got it set up no problem. The second night, after we had supper and were starting to get ready for bed, 2 of our guy friends realized that they set up their tent right in a gully that was now flowing with water after it had rained a bit that day (I’m not sure how they didn’t notice that before!) Their tent flooded. We had more room in our tent, so they crashed with us. I ended up squished up against the side of the tent.
Another Panic in the Night
Again, I couldn’t fall asleep. Then I just panicked. I was shivering and sweating and I HAD to get out of that tent! This time I did end up waking up my girlfriend. We were camping in bear country, so we couldn’t go anywhere on our own. When we got out, I had to go to the bathroom, like right now! We were in the middle of nowhere, so no outhouses or anything. We had to dig a hole to use for the toilet. We were supposed to go out from camp a little way, but I couldn’t make it that far. So, there I went, just 10 feet or so down the path from our tents.
I felt a bit better after that but still slept very fitfully that night. I think I made one of our guy friends switch spots with me so I could be in the middle of the tent rather than up against the wall. The next day, we were hiking back down. I felt so incredibly drained and tired, but we had to go. Telling our leaders I was sick seemed like the easiest thing to do and I stayed near that back of the pack with the “slower” hikers. I was so glad to finally get home that day. Again, I felt so embarrassed.
The Worst Part
Not knowing what was happening was the worst part of it all. I didn’t talk about it to anyone, I felt like I was weak or there was something wrong with me. I didn’t want to admit that to anyone! So, I just ignored it and continued on with life. Little did I know that would come to bite me in the butt in the next few years!
If you or someone you know is struggling with Anxiety or any other mental health issue, please reach out for help! I am happy to point you in the right direction for any resources you may need. Here is a quick quiz from WebMd about some of the Facts of Anxiety, what it is and when it might be becoming a problem: What’s Worrying You? The Facts About Anxiety.
Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of Living with Anxiety ~ Jesus & Medication
This passage used to freak me out. It gives me so much comfort now, but when I was wrestling with God still, it gave me no comfort at all. Where was I supposed to go to get away from God? If God could always find me, how was I supposed to hide the ugly parts of my life? These are the thoughts that would run through my head as I used to read this passage. But, no more! Praise the Lord! Here are 3 reflections from Psalm 139 that God has given me.
This post may contain affiliate links. Through no added cost to you, I may receive a small commission. For more information please see my Disclosure Statement.
He’s a Loving Father
When God seeks me and finds me, He does so as a loving Father, not as a Judge. You know how little kids hide under a blanket and think no one can see them? My girls still do this all the time. As soon as Daddy is home, they want to hide so they sit on the couch with a blanket over their heads! Of course, as adults, we play along and pretend we can’t see them and search everywhere for them.
Well, when God sees us, even if we are trying to hide our heads or our ugly parts of life, God doesn’t see the blanket, He sees me covered in Jesus’ blood. He sees me as loved and forgiven. God meets us where we are, we don’t have to be “cleaned up” before He’ll have a relationship with us. He wants us right now, as we are. He doesn’t see our sin, He sees His Son.
Enclosed me Behind and Before
Isn’t this such a comfort? He encloses us in behind and before. In other words, He goes before us and He takes care of everything that is behind us! Praise the Lord!! Reading this passage I immediately thought of the Israelites in the desert after they left Egypt. The Lord was a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night leading them to the promised land. When they went to cross the Red Sea with the Egyptians hot on their tail, He moved behind them in the pillar of cloud to confuse and block the Egyptians from catching them.
How great that He promises to do the same for us. He promises to be with us no matter what. He will go before us to prepare the way, and He will go behind us to block the attacks of our enemies!
“The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they mighttravel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”
“The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel, and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night.”
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Being a mother of a preemie, this part of Psalm 139 is especially near and dear to me. You can read all about Lily’s birth story in my post My Preemie Miracle. One of the miracles of having a preemie is you get to watch part of the growth process that would normally happen in the womb in the outside world. My sister in law and I were originally due 1 day apart, so when Lily came 11 weeks early, we would look at her and think this is exactly what her cousin was doing inside the womb.
Lily was born needing assistance breathing, we got to see her grow out of that and breath on her own. She was not able to breast feed right away as preemies use more calories trying to eat than they can take in. It just tires them out too much. It was so amazing when she got to the point of actually being able to nurse! She also had a hole in her heart that we got to see close up. We wouldn’t have seen any of this in the womb.
Our bodies are amazingly made. The way everything works together is unbelievable. I just remember watching Lily and wondering how anyone can look at a living, breathing baby, especially a preemie, and not believe God made them and knit them together in their mother’s womb!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my 3 reflections from Psalm 139. I’d love to hear some of your reflections on this passage! Drop a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you ever feel like you are constantly weighed down by your cell phone, “important” emails, social media and all the other things we feel we need to be plugged in to? I know I sure do. All too often I find myself aimlessly scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest and before I know it, it’s been over an hour and I’ve been ignoring my husband and kids! So I came up with 10 tips for unplugging this summer to enjoy more time with your family.
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What’s the Bible got to say?
I recently wrote an article on this topic for a local magazine I do some freelance writing for. Boy, was I convicted as I typed! There are days I spend WAY too much time on my phone. My kids ask me to push them on the swings, and I tell them “Mommy is working right now.” I pass it off as doing research on Pinterest for my next article, but really I’m just aimlessly scrolling. Just the other week, my husband told me he sometimes feels like he’s competing with my phone for my attention. That really broke my heart. Our phones have become our idols and sap away at our relationships and time we can be spending with the Lord. This is what God has to say about idols:
“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing loving-kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
While technology has brought us many, many great things, it’s also brought a lot more stress. Being connected 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is taking its toll on us both mentally, physically and spiritually. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others on Facebook and Instagram, coveting what they have. When clearly the Bible states:
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
I wrote a post all about this last fall. We are Obsessed with Picture Perfect! People only put the best of their best up online. The pictures are staged to look “just so.” We compare our worst moments, the others manufactured “perfect” moments. It’s sad and for me has been a hard road to walk down at times and get to the same realization that Theodore Roosevelt came to. That comparison really is the thief of all joy.
How to Unplug this Summer
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be a constant battle! The Lord has overcome all addiction and obsessions. It might not be easy but, luckily, summer is a great time to take a technology break. There are so many other things we could be doing with our time… especially in the summertime!
Here are 10 tips for unplugging this summer and enjoying more time with your family.
Start small, schedule the time and make a plan – it’s not realistic to cut technology out cold turkey, so start small. Plan a family game night or outing and LEAVE THE PHONE for an hour or two. Don’t just say ‘’we’re going to go technology free on Saturday” and then have nothing planned. If you are just sitting around twiddling your thumbs, you are going to be MAJORLY tempted. Use the time of no technology to actually spend quality time with your family. It’s summertime… get outside!! If you’re staying home, put the phone on airplane mode in another room. If you’re going out, consider not even taking the phone with you. That way it’s less of a distraction and temptation. Schedule it ahead of time as a “no cell phone” outing. This keeps everyone on the same page. Write it on all the calendars and talk about it ahead of time. No surprises!!
There are a lot of Apps out there that you can use to control your WIFI usage. Try turning it off at certain times in the day, first thing in the morning, supper time, etc. Turn it off at a preset time each night so you aren’t aimlessly scrolling while trying to fall asleep! The light from cell phones and tablets has actually proven to make it harder to fall asleep anyway, so it’s really not a good idea to be scrolling through your emails before bed anyway.
Go somewhere with no cellphone reception. A couple of weeks ago, we went to my sister’s cabin. They don’t have cell phone reception there. It is great to be completely unplugged and not worry about checking Facebook or email multiple times a day. We got to really enjoy being with each other and spending time together. We went fishing, went on boat rides, took a nice family walk, sat in the hot tub, and played games! It was so enjoyable. I definitely want to do it at least once again this summer!
Don’t look at your phone during meals. This is a rule in our house. My kids are still young and don’t have their own phones, but my husband and I have always said no phones at the table. We want to keep that time for family. This can even be your first step in starting small. Make dinner time a NO PHONE ZONE! Put your phone in a different room so the temptation to look is removed.
Turn off your pings and alerts – as soon as I hear my phone alert me that something happened, I feel like I have to go check it RIGHT NOW! If you turn off all your alerts, unless you have the phone in your hand at that moment, you’ll never know you missed something! And really, it probably wasn’t that big of a deal anyway. It can usually wait an hour or two before you check your phone again.
Set up an “Out of Office” notice on your email for a few hours every day. This way people are aware you won’t be responding right away and you don’t have to feel guilty. If it’s a true emergency, people who are close to you will know how to get a hold of you. Which brings me to my next point…
Let people know – when we went to the cabin, we told our families we wouldn’t have access to our phones or the internet. If we needed to be reached, they know they can contact my sister and brother in law who don’t live that far away (45 minutes). If it was a real emergency, they could come and tell us. Some people get antsy if you don’t answer their texts right away, so make sure they know not to expect a reply! People will also be more respectful of your time if you let them know you are detaching from technology for a bit.
Set time limits for your kids and STICK TO THEM! When my girls are watching a show on TV and the episode comes to an end, they always yell “Another one Momma!?!” I’m often tempted to say “just one more…” But that just one more turns into one more and then one more and then one more. You get the idea. Turn it off when you’re actually planning to turn it off!
Socialize!!! – Enroll your kids in some fun summer activities! Get involved in a group in your community or church. Volunteer! There are so many ways to actually socialize with people face to face rather than through technology. This is so important for our kids to see us model as well (this is an area I know I need to work on). They need to know how to socialize in real life, the more they see us do it, the better adjusted they will become.
Read offline – this is one I struggle with. I rarely read a physical book anymore. I usually read on my phone or iPad through apps like Kindle or Kobo. But… there’s always that temptation to just flip over to my email for a second, or check out what’s happening on Instagram. Before you know it, you waste another hour and only get through half a chapter of your book. Go to the library, put your phone in another room (or turn it off) and enjoy reading your books! I have also found some great book off of New Growth Press that I really enjoyed recently.
There are so many benefits to unplugging from technology. It decreases our stress, which improves many areas of our lives such as relationships and our physical health. Studies show people who unplug sleep better and are generally happier overall. I look at unplugging from technology like a fast. You can take that time you would normally be answering emails or checking Facebook and instead use that time to spend with the Lord. Use that time to spend with your family. God is all about relationships, and our family one is the most important ones.
Let me leave you with this quote I found…
Get out and enjoy your summer with your family, face to face, not on social media!! What are some more tips you have for unplugging?
Book Review of Don’t Blame the Mud: Only Jesus Makes Us Clean
Have your kids ever done something they KNOW they are not allowed to? After they tried to blame it on someone else? Of course you have! Every kid has done it! Just tonight at supper time Lily tried to blame me for cutting her bread into smaller pieces. She wanted a big piece which I gave her. But then she cut it up! I don’t know why she thought blaming me, her mom, would be a good idea. Blaming others and the story of God’s redemption are the focus of Marty Machowski’s new book Don’t Blame the Mud: Only Jesus Makes Us Clean.
This post may contain affiliate links. Through no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission on your purchase. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. For more information, see my disclosure statement.
Marty tells the story of Max, a young boy walking home from school one afternoon. Max’s mom reminds him in the morning not to get his clothes dirty. First, he is to come home and change. Well, the mud was calling Max that day and he did NOT stay clean!! He tried to hide it. After that, he blamed the mud, then he felt the guilt.
Marty beautifully weaves God’s story of redemption through the conversation Max has with his parents. The closing sentence says it perfectly:
The mud was all gone and so was my shame. My heart was washed clean, and deep inside I knew God was now living with me.
The pictures in this book are fantastic! The illustrator is Craig MacIntosh and his art captures exactly what the story is saying. At the back of the book, there’s even pages on “Helping your child understand sin” and “Helping your child understand the Gospel” and these 3 key verses:
But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:7-9
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
Psalm 51:1-2 NIV
Jesus said: “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”
If you want to start talking to your kids about redemption and forgiveness, this book is the place to start! My kids love it, and it opened up a lot of questions from them. I’m looking forward to many more bedtime stories reading this book! Most importantly, I’m looking forward to the discussions and questions that follow!
To purchase this book from New Growth Press Click here.
Additionally, it can be purchased from Amazon here.
I wrote a post last month for Mother’s Day about 5 Things I learned from my Mom and it ended up being my top post for the month of May! I’m not surprised, my mom is pretty cool. My Dad is pretty awesome too, so I thought in honour of Father’s Day I’d write about 5 things I learned from my Dad!
6 years ago, just before my wedding, my Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. I still feel like the luckiest girl in the world that he was still able to walk me down the aisle. I’ve always been a little bit of a Daddy’s girl, so this meant A LOT to me. It’s been hard watching him deteriorate as part of this disease as well as dementia he was also diagnosed with. I feel most of my girls as they’ll never know my Dad the way he was. They’ll never get to experience him as he was with my older nephews and nieces. But, even though he’s a shadow of what he once was, I still learned so much from him throughout my life!
5 Things I learned from my Dad
How to change a flat tire and my oil ~ I can still change a flat tire, I’m not sure how well I’d do changing my oil though! When my siblings and I turned 16 and started driving, we all had to learn how to change the oil and tires on our vehicles. I love that he did this. I want my girls to be able to do this themselves too when they’re older.
How to drive a standard ~ My Dad grew up in the Netherlands, everyone drives standard there. It’s harder to find an automatic car there. He insisted we all drive a standard and taught us all to drive. He also taught us Dutch bar songs during our driving lessons. I don’t remember any, but there was one about an alligator I believe!
Loyalty and Perseverance ~ When I was really young, I remember my Dad being out of work for a while. My Dad was a mechanic and my Mom stayed home with us kids (four of us in five years!!) He landed a job at a Ford dealership and worked there for over 20 years. It wasn’t always his favourite, we knew he’d had a hard day at work when he’d come home and sing about becoming a postman, but he still went in every single day and put us all through private school as well.
Quiet trust and faith ~ My Dad might not have been the most talkative person, but he always had a quiet trust and faith about him. Even when things were tough, even when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he still had faith that God was with him and would never leave him. He chose to trust each and every day and he taught me to live in faith as well.
Jokes ~ My Dad was a jokester!! He had some wicked “bad Dad jokes” and thought he was pretty hilarious. Any time we would say “Hey!” he would pipe up “Hay is for horses… and cows eat it too.” We stopped saying “hey” pretty quickly! He loved to laugh and he loved to make us laugh. I like to think I got some of my whity-ness from him.
I miss my Dad. He’s still here physically, but I miss a lot about who he was and what he taught me. I keep these lessons treasured in my heart. So, go hug the Dad’s in your life and let them know how much they mean to you and have taught you!
And to all you Dad’s out there… HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! We love and appreciate all you do. What are you doing for Father’s Day this year?
I have a three-year-old and a four-year-old. I know my share fair share of tantrums. I’m no expert, but I feel like I am slowly learning about taming the tantrums. Some days it still feels like one tantrum after another, other days are much better.
My youngest daughter can be especially challenging at times. Last week, we were shopping at the mall, both girls had to go to the bathroom. So the three of us girls went together. Maggie has a thing with wet clothing, she can’t wear anything with even a drop of liquid on it. She thought her pants got wet (which they did) and refused to put them on, in a public bathroom. She was tired and ended up having a HUGE meltdown which ended in her hitting me and trying to bite me. We both left the bathroom in tears. It is definitely not my proudest moment as a mom.
I wrote a post a while ago about How to Stop Arguing with your Toddler and while that works well during the meltdowns, I was desperate for something to tame the tantrums… in a dream world, something to make them disappear altogether. I dream of a tantrum fairy who just flutters in and takes the tantrums before they even start. But, she’s three, so I know that’s not going to happen!
How many of you have heard something along the lines of you can’t give anything without filling up your own cup first? I have learned this to be especially true in two ways during this season in life.
Filling My Cup
I know each and every day, I need my strength to deal with whatever life throws my way. I need my cup to be full, I need Jesus!
The last month or so, I’ve been getting up earlier than my kiddos so I can spend some time in the Word and prayer. I find that time I spend with Jesus is so refreshing, it fills my cup so to say. My day seems to go MUCH better when I take those first moments of my day to be filled with the Lord. It improves my mood as well, which makes me a better mom.
I am NOT a morning person. I would sleep till noon if I could, but I know I need this time. Some mornings, I just want to crawl back into bed. I’ve put my phone with my alarm on the other side of the room so I have to get up!!
Filling Her Cup
How does this relate to my daughter and taming the tantrums? The key is time. I notice on the days I spend focused, one on one time with her, the better she acts. When I fill her cup, she’s in a better mood.
I’m not saying this as a quick fix. It isn’t. It’s hard some days to want to invest that one on one time with her, especially when she’s being so miserable. But I know how much she needs this.
Her favourite thing right now is being pushed on the swing. She will ask everyone and anyone to push her. She loves going high, asking over and over to push her higher and higher than ever. It’s pretty cute. How hard is it for me to take 15-20 minutes out of my day to go and push her in the swing?
I recently started reading the book “Whole Brain Child” by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. I love that it talks about connecting with the child to the right and left sides of the brain. But again, a lot of it was what to do during the tantrum. I find spending quality time with her bites the tantrums in the bud taming the tantrums before they start happening.
Taming the Tantrums
Time is the way to tame the tantrums. Spending time with God tames my tantrums, and spending time with my daughter tames her tantrums. I need that time with God to be able to spend the time with Maggie; otherwise, I have nothing to give.
What are some ways you spend time to fill your own cup? How do you fill your kids’ cups? I’d love to hear!!
If you’re a momma, especially of young girls like I am, you’ve likely heard of the Disney movie Frozen. Who can forget the amazing Idina Menzel belting out “Let it Go!” I dare you not to get that song stuck in your head!! The whole movie is about fear and love and what affect that has on a person (ok, it’s really about a princess who falls in love with the ice harvester after the snowman plays matchmaker, but I’m talking on a deeper level.) The movie can be used to show why perfect love drives out fear. Maybe I watch too many movies with my kids because I wrote another post Getting Through the Scary parts of Life off of one of the Barbie movies!!
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Perfect Love Drives out Fear
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”
1 John 4:18
The Bible says that perfect love drives out fear. The opposite of fear is not safety, or comfort, or not being scared. The opposite of fear is love. Fear paralyzes, love frees! There is absolutely no fear in love, if there was, it wouldn’t be perfect love.
What does Frozen have to do with it?
If you’ve seen the movie, and you probably have, you know Grand Pabbie is the wise old troll that Anna sees after being struck by Elsa’s powers, twice. The first time, when they are both girls and their parents are still alive, Grand Pabbie tells the King and Queen that fear will be Elsa’s enemy. We can see this throughout the movie as she fears people knowing her powers. When they do find out about her powers, she runs off fearing they’ll think she’s a monster.
The second time Anna sees Grand Pabbie, Elsa has struck her in the heart with her icy power. Grand Pabbie tells her that “only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart.” I won’t give away the ending, but lets just say that Anna sacrifices herself to shows her true love for her sister in the end. That’s when Elsa finally realizes how to end the eternal winter her fear has brought on, it’s with love.
See where I’m going here? Love, perfect love drives out fear every time.
Love is an Action Word
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
1 John 3:18
I listened to a podcast by Ruth Soukup of Do it Scared during my workout this morning titled “Why Action is the Antidote of Fear.” We see this word ACTION when it comes to overcoming fear. (If you want to get motivated to start something, you have to listen to her podcasts!)
Grand Pabbie says in Frozen that only an ACT of true love can thaw the frozen heart. Love is an action, it’s a verb not a noun. We can say we love all we want, but if our actions aren’t showing that, is it really love? I can tell my kids or my husband a million times that I love them, but unless I show them through my actions, would they really know or believe me?
We see the ultimate act of love in Christ on the cross. He sacrificed Himself to show us how much He loves us. That’s an act of true love! He died to be able to have a relationship with us and continue to show us how much He loves us. If we live in this truth, how can there be fear? God is for us! God is with us! He loves us and wants what is best for us. As we lived soaked and saturated in His love, fear will start to disappear, it will thaw away like a frozen heart.
” What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”
Have you ever forgotten someone’s birthday? Or an important anniversary? I shared in my Newsletter in April that I completely forgot my 5 year old nephews birthday this year! He turned 5 in February. Granted February was a hectic month for us as we moved, but I still felt awful for forgetting it. I remembered a system my parents (and pretty much every one of my Aunts and Uncles had growing up) to never forget an important date.
How to Never Forget an Important Date Again
I grew up in a good Dutch family. We’re all a little stubborn and a little frugal (that’s the nice way to say cheap! But serious, I do love a good deal!) We went to church together on Sundays and ate supper together every night. And we had a birthday & anniversary calendar hanging in our house. For some reason, most Dutch people hang it in their bathroom, but ours was always in the kitchen. I looked it up on stuffdutchpeoplelike.com and it’s because it’s a place we go to every day and spend some alone time (unless you have toddlers, then it’s not alone time!) to peruse the calendar and see what important dates are coming up!
Birthday & Anniversary Calendar
I’ve had a couple of them since I’ve moved out many years ago, but never one that I really liked. So, I created my own! It was pretty easy to do once I figured out how to do it on Canva, but it took me about a month to finally get it all looking the way I wanted! It looks so lovely now hanging in my bathroom and I don’t plan to EVER forget another birthday or anniversary! You can purchase the calendar on my Etsy shop and print it out for yourself. Seriously, it’s a life saver!
When I was little I was a daydreamer. Even into my teens and early twenties you would often find me off in my own world. I had dreams of being an Olympic athlete, being a neurosurgeon, traveling and getting married and becoming a mother. While I’ve never won a gold medal at the Olympics or cut into someone’s head, I am living my dream as a wife and mother.
But when did we stop dreaming? I’m talking big God size dreams. In this book “She Dreams” Tiffany looks more into this and encourages us to dream again.
This post may contain affiliate links. Through no added cost to you, I may receive a small commission. I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and opinion. For full details, please see our Disclosure Statement.
Why Don’tI dream?
Isn’t it easy as Mother’s to get bogged down with the nitty-gritty of everyday life? Our days seem mundane with laundry, grocery shopping, dishes, making meals, driving kids around… you get my point. I don’t dream like I used to. I have ideas and things I’d like to do, but not those big dreams of “I can do anything!” But not Olympic size dreams anymore.
Even with this blog, I have goals I’ve set and things I’d like to accomplish, but where is that big pie in the sky dream of what this blog can be?
Maybe I don’t want to say out loud what I’d really like to do with this blog for fear of “jinxing” myself. Maybe I’m afraid to fail or afraid to succeed. I do have big dreams for this blog, but I’m scared to admit it. I’m probably afraid because I’ve had big dreams before only to see them crumble before me. But, that doesn’t mean God isn’t with me through it all.
“If I don’t let my past stay exactly where it belongs, which is behind me, then I can perpetuate the cycle of defeat and feel inadequate to move forward toward my God-sized dream.”
Tiffany uses the story of Moses to encourage us to dream big and bold. We all run into roadblocks and discouragements along the way, but God is with us and working through all of those hard times.
“God doesn’t always work in the way that seems the best to us. If God does not lead you along the shortest path to your goal, don’t complain or resist. Follow Him willingly and trust Him to lead you safely around unseen obstacles. He can see the end of your journey from the beginning, and he knows the safest and best route.”
“Some of us feel we don’t know how things will work out, therefore, we shouldn’t give it a go.”
I’ve never read the story of Moses as a story of a dreamer. So it was really interesting to look at the story of the Exodus from a different perspective. To be honest, I did find it a bit hard to follow where Tiffany was going through parts of the story, but the overall theme is the same and inspiring… She Dreams.
I would definitely recommend this book to everyone. It’s so important for us to dream again. I’ve been challenged to let myself dream again. I know you would be inspired by this book too. You can get it here from Amazon, or you can also enter to win a free book here through a Rafflecopter giveaway. You only have until May 14th, 2019 to enter this draw, so enter soon! **Draw is now closed**
Happy Mother’s Day month to all the fellow Momma’s out there; Especially my mom and mother in law if they’re reading this! Now, I’m sure we can all say we learned a thing or two from our Moms; so in honour of Mother’s Day this month, I’m sharing 5 things I learned from my Mom.
This post may contain affiliate links. Through no added cost to you, I may be paid a small commission. For more details, please see our disclosure statement.
1. My faith ~ My parents (including my mom) have been so faithful in bringing us up in a Christian home. I’m not a Christian just because my parents are Christian; I made that decision myself. But I am thankful that the love of God was instilled in me at an early age. I know she has prayed for each one of us kids every single night. I’m pretty sure she still does.
2. The BEST Chocolate Chip cookies! ~ My Moms father was a baker, a number of my uncles have been bakers and my Mom has always baked. Our house often smelled of cookies, cakes or bread. I don’t know if it’s a family recipe, but I have never found a better recipe for chocolate chip cookies than the one she makes!
3. Organization, banking & taxes ~ Seriously, my mom is THE most organized person you will ever meet! Her house is always tidy and everything has a spot to be. Unfortunately, I have no inherited all the organization skills from my mother. I know how to run a good family calendar because of her (as she used to say “if it’s not on the calendar, it’s not happening”) and my kitchen cupboards are fairly organized because of her!
I also remember my mom spending hours in the evenings going through and balancing their bank books. She did it all by hand back then, no apps to keep track of everything back then like we use now. I don’t know if they had a specific budget, but I’m sure they did! I know things were tight, and she definitely knew where every penny was going. And taxes, my mom still helps me with my taxes! She worked at H&R Block for years and then did taxes from home for quite a few more years. Every year at this time I head on over to her place to get her help in doing my taxes!
4. Love for the Outdoors ~ My mom had us spend a lot of times outdoors growing up. Sometimes she probably sent us outside to play just to get out of her hair! We went on yearly camping trips all over BC and Alberta. I have so many memories of swimming and playing around in the campgrounds. Those are some of my favourite times from when we were younger! We also went on a lot of hikes, walks, trips to the lake etc. We spent a lot of time outdoors and I still like doing the same with my kids now. I hope to pass on the same love of the outdoors on to them. I wouldn’t say she’s the best navigator though, she got us majorly lost at Campbell River Park one time!
5. For better or for Worse, in Sickness and in Health ~ My mom has shown me what love and marriage really means. My Dad has been sick for a number of years. Last year, it got to be too much for my mom to care for him at home. He now lives in a care home in Abbotsford. Even though he is deteriorating both mentally and physically, my mom is still there every single day. She sits with him, has tea with him, shows him pictures and takes him out on walks. She has shown me what unconditional love is. She’s shown it to us as her children, and she continues to demonstrate it to as she stays by my Dad’s side in his sickness.
So, there it is! 5 things I learned from my Mom! I know I could write a much longer list! I’ve kept it at 5 so you’re not reading this blog post forever! What are somethings that you’ve learned from your Mother?
So I just finished reading Kristin Funston’s book More for Mom- Living Your Whole and Holy Life (you can get it on Amazon here) and boy did I enjoy it!! This is a must read for any mom. You really feel like you get to know Kristin, having a cup of coffee or tea together, as she walks through the book with you.
This post may contain affiliate links. Through no added cost to you, I may receive a small commission. I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. You can get more information from our disclosure statement.
Whole & Holy
As you read through this book, Kristen really has a focus on us “work-hard” moms being whole and holy. This concept of being whole and holy is brought up in pretty much every chapter. Of course, we can only have this through Christ and Kristen weaves that into the book with many scripture references.
I was reminded of a lot that Alisa Keeton had to say in The Wellness Revelation which I read last month. Having a whole life, living wholeheartedly; this is what Christ desires for us.
“We need our brains to create muscle memory of what whole and holy thoughts feel like.”
“According to Psalm 24:1, God has claimed the world and everything in it. Let’s stop letting the world claim us and remember who we belong to.”
More for Mom Friendships
I have to admit, Chapter 4 was a very convicting chapter for me to read. Since I became a Mom, I feel like I’ve let a lot of my friendships slide. I haven’t made a great effort in being a friend, constantly putting my family first.
“To have a friend we have to be a friend. To have relationship, we have to give relationship. All types of relationships. This is what we are called to do in Christ.”
Kristen talks about how we steal other people’s joy or peace or happiness when we aren’t a friend. We steal their peace when they’re scrambling to look for someone to watch their kids and we don’t offer until the last moment. We steal their joy or happiness of having fellowship when we don’t make emotional space for them.
Guilty, guilty, guilty.
I’ve been convicted to be more open to people in general; convicted to be a better friend to the friends I already have.
My hope and prayer is that you all know I am here as a friend for you. I don’t just blog for myself. I blog for you; to connect with you, encourage you and journey with you in faith, family and motherhood.
I was reminded again of how fasting is so good for both our physical and spiritual selves. I wrote a post, 6 Things I Learned Fasting when I did a fast while I was reading The Wellness Revelation and was amazed at some of the lessons I learned. These were not the lessons I thought I’d learn from fasting, but I was rejuvenated physically and spiritually.
Kristin reminds of the importance of fasting and that it’s something we aught to be doing. I need to be doing another fast! I hope you will join me, if you feel led to of course! Let me know how it goes!
So much More for Mom
There is so much more I could talk about with this book! From praying scripture to dreaming big again, Kristin covers it all. But, I want you to read it and experience yourself, so I’m going to finish off here. Let me leave with this quote from the book:
“I think the good moms are the ones who follow their dreams, work hard at whatever they do, love their people well, and give Jesus all the credit and glory along the way. These are the moms who are doing the thing day in and day out and doing it well.”
About the Author
With a passion for writing, Kristin Funston encourages women in a way that is relatable and practical, with a healthy dose of humor. She has a master’s degree in Communication Studies from Mexico State University. Kristin is a member and employee of Hope Presbyterian Church and works as the Marriage and Family Coordinator and a leader in the women’s ministry. She is also a regular contributor to multiple blogs including The Better Mom, City Moms blog, TODAY Parenting and Scary Mommy. Funston resides outside of Memphis, TN with her husband and three daughters.
Let me know what you think of the book, be sure to pick it up here! Happy reading!
“Take me in to the Holy of Holies. Take me in by the blood of the Lamb. Take me in to the Holy of Holies. Take the coal, touch my lips, here I am.” Kutless ~ Strong Tower ~ Take Me In
One of my favourite parts of any worship service (in my case, usually Sunday mornings) is the singing. I find I connect on such a deep level with God through worship in song. I love singing, always have (my husband bugs me that I’d make life a musical if I could!) maybe that’s why.
Anyway, with this Easter season coming up, this song has really been on my heart and mind lately.
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Holy of Holies
What exactly is the Holy of Holies? The Holy of Holies is the innermost place of the tabernacle. The tabernacle is the tent the Israelites traveled with while they were wandering in the desert. Once the temple was built, the Holy of Holies was still the innermost part. It was the actual dwelling place of God, surrounded by a thick curtain so no one could see God’s face. God is so Holy, we can’t even stand before Him on our own. This inner place is called the Holy of Holies because it is the holiest possible place to be, God’s presence!
The Day of Atonement
Once a year, on the day of atonement, the high priest went in to the Holy of Holies to make atonement for Israel’s sins (see Leviticus 16). Of course he couldn’t just waltz right on in there. There was a whole list of things he had to do first to make himself “clean enough” to go into the Holy of Holies and enter God’s presence.
Each and every year, the Jews had been atoning for their sins on the Day of Atonement. The high priest went in to the inner most part of the temple and offered sacrifices. It was a continual thing, never done once and for all.
The Veil Around the Holy of Holies is Torn
Fast forward a few thousand years to the night of the crucifixion. As Jesus breathed His last breath, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Mark 15:38). This curtain was massive. I imagine it being like the giant red curtain in theatres. There is no way anyone could reach the top of it, yet alone tear it from top to bottom. It happened because Jesus was the final high priest. He is the final atoning sacrifice for our sins. God ripped the veil from the top because through Christ, we an come into His presence.
His death allows us into the Holy of Holies! As we discussed on Day 5 of my Free 5 Day Devotional on the Book of Esther (if you haven’t signed up for it yet, sign up here), Jesus came to fulfill all the festivals like He fulfilled the Festival of Purim in the book of Esther. At the crucifixion, He also fulfills the Day of Atonement! We no longer have to make sacrifices each year, we can come directly into God’s presence with confidence because of Jesus’ death.
Happy Easter ~ Let’s Celebrate in the Holy of Holies
Isn’t this an amazing gift?!? The gift of God’s presence. He loves us so much, He couldn’t stand being apart from us! He tore down that veil to bring us into fellowship with Him. Praise the Lord!
I pray that as you go into this Easter season, you know how much God loves you. He died for you to bring you into His presence, His holy presence. May we truly celebrate this amazing gift and amazing grace together.
Loose What Weighs You Down so you can Love God, Yourself & Others
I recently went through The Wellness Revelation book and program as part of a group my sister was leading. It has seriously been an eye opening experience for me, especially in terms of how and what I eat. I never considered how eating can be a way to worship the Lord and be a form of self-care for myself. Food has always just been food for me, something to eat and enjoy. Now, I’m seeing it more as fuel for my body to keep going.
I started off on this Revelation Wellness journey thinking I would get some motivation and change in my mindset when it comes to exercise. With this being a “fitness journey” this is what I was expecting. Well, I was wrong! Doesn’t God always work in unexpected ways? You’d think I’d know that by now, but thankfully God is gracious and keeps reminding me.
My Goals for The Revelation Wellness Journey
I started out with 4 specific goals.
Have more energy
Improve my mood
Lose some tummy weight
Have compassion on myself.
While I do believe I reached most of those goals (not that I’m there, it’s a work in progress!), I really thought it would be through exercising more. However, God taught me a lot more through food. In week 2, we were challenged to fasting (You can read my post on that in my post 6 Things I learned While Fasting). It was a really special 24 hours for me. My biggest realization was that I am able to say “No” to food.
I’ve always struggled with self control in the eating area. It never used to be an issue for me when I was younger. I had a high metabolism and was super active. But that has changed as I have gotten older. Lately, I’m always “rewarding” myself with treats. I’m potty training my 3 year old right now. If she pees on the potty, she gets a treat, and so does Mommy, because potty training is hard! I’ve seen that I am able to reset my mindset in this and realize I don’t need to use food as a reward.
I love that this 8 week program focuses on living wholeheartedly. It’s not just about losing weight. It’s not just about what we eat. We have to take care of the body as a whole. A lot of times we can become selfish and prideful. We either swing to one side of the pendulum or the other. We either over-eat, sit on the couch and neglect our bodies, or we work out and diet like crazy becoming obsessed with our bodies. I loved this view of treating the body as a whole. It’s about lining out whole lives up with God’s plan for our lives. It’s about giving Him access to every part of our lives.
I worked in the fitness industry in my 20’s. I had a diploma in Fitness and Exercise Management and managed a women’s gym for a few years. It was heartbreaking to see some women there every day of the week obsessing about gaining a pound. It was also heartbreaking when people would sign up for a membership and then just not show up. They knew their health was important, that’s why they signed up, there was just no follow through. They were stuck in their old habits. I also hated all the roller coaster rides people went through. They’d lose a bunch of weight only to gain it all back again. It was depressing. Something was missing.
A relationship with Christ was missing. Knowing there is something more to your life than your body and your looks is what was missing. I’m not saying every person who goes to the gym and tries to work out is not following Christ, I’m just saying that we need to have our priorities in order. Christ always needs to be at the top and He wants to heal not just our bodies, but out minds, souls and whole lives!
Join The Revelation Wellness Journey
If you are interested in learning more about The Wellness Revelation, check out the book! It’s available on Amazon, just follow this link. Or if you are looking to join more of an accountability group to go through this journey with a facilitator, you can get in touch with my sister Rachel. You can check out her Facebook page Reclamation Fitness or email her at email@example.com. The book is amazing, most importantly though, I found doing along with a group to be super helpful. We had weekly chats and emails; we could talk about what we were learning and where we were struggling. It was that extra bit of accountability, and Lord knows I need that!!
Let me leave you with a quote from The Wellness Revelation book. Its from Week 6, Attend to Matters of the Heart. You can find it on page 167 “Today I will be kind. I will speak only kind words about myself and others. I will entertain only kind thoughts about myself and others. I will eat food that is kind to my body. I will go to the gym and move my body as an act of kindness. I am kind because my King is kind… I am on the kindness diet! I have learned to be kind to myself because God is always so kind to me.”
Do you ever feel like your job as a mom is hopeless? Here you are, raising these little children who rarely say please or thank you, whine all day and won’t go to sleep at night. What’s the point? It’s exhausting on the good days, don’t even ask about the bad days! Here’s a little secret though: It’s THE most important job there is out there.
Recently I’ve come to see motherhood as being a gardener. Bare with me in this analogy as I don’t have much of a green thumb at all!
These little seeds, little children, are given to us to nurture and grow. A gardener puts a lot of work into seedlings. They have to be watered, fertilized and put in the right environment to grow, sometimes gardeners even sing to their plants! (I sing to my girls almost every night!) As the seeds mature into saplings (toddlers), they still need lots of attention. They may need to be pruned or put into a bigger pot or better soil. If there is no gardener, these plants have little to no chance of growing into trees that bear fruit.
Our role as mothers is just as important as a gardener. If we want our children to continue to grow and mature and eventually bear fruit themselves, we have to put in the hard work. We have to be bearing our own fruit!
As Andy Stanley once said “The greatest contribution you make to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.”
Don’t ever think your job as a mom is less important than what someone else does. Don’t ever think it’s a waste of time. You are tending to those children, growing them into tall strong trees, rooted in Christ, that will bear their own fruit in time.
Jesus as Gardener
Many times in the New Testament Jesus uses gardening analogies as well. There’s the parable of the seeds in Matthew 13 where Jesus compares seeds growing in fertile soil to those who hear the Word and understand it.
John 15 talks all about gardening. Jesus says He is the vine, God is the vinedresser (gardener) and we are the the branches. Good branches that bear fruit the Father prunes to bear more fruit. A branch cannot bear fruit unless it remains in the vine. As we are pruning and bringing up our children, we must remain in the vine (in Christ) to continue producing fruit. And for our children to produce fruit, we must continue to point them back to the vine, back to Jesus.
Luke 6:44 says “For each tree is known by it’s own fruit.” What is the fruit we are wanting to be known by? What fruit do I want My children to bear? The fruit of the Spirit of course! “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
So press on! Keep on doing what you’re doing! Be the best possible momma you can be. Whether you’re a stay at home mom, or you work full time; it doesn’t matter. Continue bear your fruit and pointing your kids back to the vine. That is how you accomplish the most important job in the world. That’s how you raise strong children.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and opinions. Everything expressed in this article is my own. This post may contain affiliate links. Through no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission. For all the details please see our Disclosure Statement.
Book Review of How to Have it All by Imani Ackerman
If you know me at all, you’ll know that I enjoy a good book. I could sit on a beach and read all day. Now that I have kids I don’t get as much time to read, but I still read when I can. I was very excited when the opportunity came up to read and do a review of Imani Ackerman’s book How to Have it All: The Secrets of a Proverbs 31 Woman.
Ah, Proverbs 31! The ultimate of all ultimate lists of a what a Christian woman strives to be. There are entire ministries, books, Bible studies etc. dedicated to this one chapter in the Bible. It paints a beautiful picture, it really does; a hard working, respected woman. She runs her own household and her own business. She’s a great mom, wife, daughter and friend. She would probably have a million followers on Instagram of women who want to be just like her. Imani refers to her as “Martha Stewart + Beyonce + Oprah with more kids than Angelina Jolie and a husband who rivals Barak Obama in administration. And she loves God!” (pg14)
But, there’s the problem. It’s so easy to look at her as this picture of perfection that we want to be. So, what do we do? We do all the things she does. We get up earlier than the dawn, we work with our hands (and we’ll make ourselves enjoy it because, after all, she does!) we start trying to make our own clothing for crying out loud! All because of the Proverbs 31 Woman.
Is this what God intended when He included this book in His Word? I don’t think so. Comparison and jealousy are not of God. “I think God wants to use this woman to inspire us to be all that He has made us to be.” (pg 25) “Proverbs 31 is not a formula for how to redeem your past. God did not put this chapter in the Bible to give us a recipe for successful women that would prove the world wrong for the way they hurt us, abused us, used us and cast us aside. God did not put this chapter in the Bible to show us how we could make our lives better than it was before… We are going to dig even deeper into the purpose for this Scripture and how it can help us see the things God has for us come to fruition.” (pg33-36)
Did you know this passage is actually an acrostic poem in Hebrew? Each verse starts with a letter of the alphabet. It’s not even about a specific woman, but a woman this mother thinks her son should marry. “She lists one quality of this woman for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet.” (pg 32).
I learned so much from reading this book (and if you know me, you know I like myself a good book!!) I can’t encourage you enough to read this book. Especially if you are one of those women, like me, who tend to read Proverbs 31 as a “to do” or checklist of things to do to be a godly woman. You can purchase How to Have it All for just $9.99 on Amazon. It’s worth every penny in my opinion! It’s great to read on your own, or with some girlfriends in a Bible Study or Book Club. Imani has some very thought provoking questions at the end of each chapter. The chapters are short, so you could easily do 2 or 3 a week.