Faith, Family, Forgiveness, God, jesus, Kids, Redemption, Sinner, Uncategorized

One of Those Days…

You know the ones. Everyone and everything is trying the Jesus in you. I’m there today, friend. One of the kids bombed the first unit math test. So, as a homeschooling mom, I’m feeling the weight of fear of failure as a teacher. My patience was thin, like a big old bubblegum bubble that’s stretched to massive proportions. It bursts. It gets everywhere! In your hair, alllll over your face…well you get the picture. It’s a big old mess.

The entire house is a wreck. The laundry pile is not massive, but the clean clothes are piled as high as my 4 year old. I thought I’d lost him in it for a bit, but we’re good now. As much as I’d love to be neat and tidy, I’m not. I mean I am, or was before living with 4 other folks. However, I am actively trying to become more diligent in that area, but it is still a struggle.

Maybe you’re there, too. Maybe you have tried your dead level best to be organized and it just gets destroyed minutes later. Maybe your to the point of packing it in and giving up because the frustration and anger are threatening to erupt like a volcano. Or maybe you don’t understand these thoughts at all. Praise the Lord for that! I’m pretty sure, however, that we all know someone that has been in this season.

I’ll be honest, I was starting to lose it. Not using kind tones when responding to innocent questions. Hyper-critical over every little thing not done exactly how I wanted it. I went to the bathroom and thought that’s it, I’m done! Have you ever seen Mom’s Night Out? It’s great. I highly recommend it. Anyway, the scene where the mom is hiding in her closet, eating chocolate, babbling about the new baby birds hatching…that speaks to my soul today.

My mind was swirling with all the grievances I had against my family and myself. The anger began to build more and more, and then…

I heard a still small voice in my heart saying, “Amanda, you have a choice. One is foolish and leads to sin, the other is wise and leads to Me.” “God, I am so angry! Nothing ever changes,” I said through sobs. “That’s not true. What is true?”, the Lord probed. “Well, it’s true that our family has been more joyful these last few months, and I’ve had less physical pain since You provided the opportunity to swim every day. But I’m still so overwhelmed that I don’t know where to start!” I cried out. The Holy Spirit convicted me, “You’ve talked to the kids about Peter’s lack of focus on Me. Have you focused on me today? Or have your eyes been looking to the left and right?” I hung my head and sighed knowing that God already knew the answer and so did I. “My eyes have been on my circumstances and not You, Lord.” God lovingly reminded me that I had a choice. “Which will you choose, Amanda? To give in to despair, crawl into the fetal position and wallow in self-pity, or will you seek Me in this moment?”

Let me pause there for a moment. Friend, the Lord is holy and righteous. He will point out your sin. Its ugly. It does not feel good to see ourselves in light of that sin. To be honest, its more like a punch in the gut. But you know what? No matter what God doesn’t force you to do anything. Its all your choice. The Christian life is not one without trials or heartaches. It is one of sacrifice of self, submitting our stubborn willful sin nature to the cross on which Jesus died for all mankind. But, ya’ll, it is so worth it.

I chose the later today. You might be thinking, “Oh, Amanda, its so easy for you! You’re smiling all the time!” Friend, I’ve chosen the former path and it led to some of the darkest times in my life.

Don’t choose your own way. Choose Jesus. It really is simple. As I blasted the Christian station on Pandora and read the Bible. God gave me a direction – fold the laundry. I’m sure you’ve heard before to fold the laundry and it will help give you a heart of gratefulness. It’s true, it can help. However, if we skip that first step of going to God first, then we are missing out of the power of God’s Word. His Word is what illuminates the deep seeded sin in our hearts. For me, it was selfishness, pride, anger, and perfectionism. Also, I’ll not for the ones who do not struggle with this, but for many (like myself) just going directly to the task only feeds that bitterness and anger. Why? Because the first and most important step has been left out – seeking Jesus.

When, not if, you have “one of those days”, let me encourage you to do the following:

  1. Retreat to a quiet place and cry out to God. Seek His wisdom over the situation.
  2. Read the Bible. Read passages that speak to the situation. (If you don’t have a concordance in your Bible, then go to http://www.biblestudytools.com & search for verses on [insert issue]. You’re simply looking for verse recommendations, not commentaries.) Stay in that moment with God for however long you need to, friend.
  3. Ask God to show you the sin hidden in your heart. For me it was recognizing that I hadn’t been patient, kind or gentle with my family. That was a direct result of focusing on the circumstances instead of my Savior. Maybe, like me, your reaction to the issues weren’t God-honoring. Maybe you were parenting from the world’s perspective, rather than God’s. Maybe your single or married without kids and you’ve been taking things out on your friends or spouse. We all face stress and deal with sin no matter what life stage we are in.
  4. Seek forgiveness. From God and any that you have wronged…yes, that includes your children and/or spouse if you have sinned against them.
  5. Turn on some Christian praise music & fold that laundry. At this point, your heart should feel the freedom of forgiveness and your eyes focused on the blessings of the task. If not, go back to the beginning. Go back to God & His word. Stay there all day if you need to. We must stay humbled at His feet in order to see more clearly the sin we struggle with and how to combat it. It might not be easy or pretty, but it’s worth it.

Friend, have a plan of action because those days will come. When they come, let the first thing we do be go to Jesus.

“Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (HCSB)

By His grace,

birthdays, Faith, Family, Kids

Hello!

Good morning on this fabulously fall Friday! Some of you have been following along for quite some time and I have yet to do a Friday Introduction day. Well today just so happens to be a special day in our family because its my birthday! Woooo! I know. I know. I’m an adult and we don’t get birthdays. (insert gigantic eye roll) But in our family birthdays are kind of a big deal. Depending on the year, I may throw an elaborate party for the kiddos or it might be a tiny family shindig, but that’s not the important part. Its my firm belief that we should celebrate each life and praise the Lord for each year we’ve been granted on this side of Heaven.

Its my firm belief that we should celebrate each life and praise the Lord for each year we’ve been granted on this side of Heaven.

The Broken Smile

Hi, my name’s Amanda and I LOVE to celebrate birthdays!

So, on a birthday we usually have a special breakfast chosen by the birthday boy or girl.

Fun Fact #1: I love pancakes. I’m kind of a pancake snob. Annnnd I have a fantastic recipe for some made-from-scratch pancakes that are by far my fam’s favorite. Just sayin’ – they’re delish. I totally had pancakes this morning!

During breakfast we each take turns telling the birthday person why he/she is special to us and how they are a blessing to our family. We pray and thank the Lord for giving us the gift of that person.

Side note: I believe these kinds of life giving words are important on the daily not just a birthday; however, there is something extra sweet when we tie it into the significance of God’s sovereign plan for that person. None of us are accidents. We all, whether wanted or not, are only here by the hand of the God of all Creation. He doesn’t make mistakes. In that we celebrate.

Fun Fact #2: I love balloons! Its just a really simple (and cheap) way to put a smile on someone’s face.

Over the years, we have given balloons to each kid in fun ways. One year I blew up probably 20+ balloons and scattered them all about the floor of our daughter’s bedroom while she was sleeping. We were awakened before dawn with loads of giggles! For our middle, we made it rain balloons from the ceiling when he opened his bedroom door. His smile and Big Sister’s excitement over the anticipation of blessing her little brother – priceless. Or sometimes its just a really cute mylar balloon.

Someone once told me that I set the bar too high for birthdays and that I’ll have to top it each year. No. I don’t believe that to be true. I believe that we should teach our children to have the same gratitude in the little blessings as in the big ones. Because guess what y’all, the Lord does not give out the same blessings to everyone. How do we as adults respond? Are we content with what we are given? OR do we tend to side-eye our neighbor and let that jealousy root take hold in our hearts? I know I’ve been guilty of the latter. So why wouldn’t we use these situations as a teachable moment for our children? Practice contentment and gratitude in all things that the Lord has given us, rather than coveting what He has given our neighbor.

Usually, we wrap the day up with special one-on-one snuggles with the birthday kid…or all the kids if its Mommy 0r Daddy’s birthday…and we recount the stories of how we found out we were expecting the birthday child and the events of their birth. Currently our oldest is the only one that really understands this, but she loves it and belly laughs every year we tell her story. She’ll be 9 in December.

Fun Fact #3: I never really dreamed of being a mom. However, the moment I met my eldest…well, to say it was life changing sounds really clichѐ, but now there’s nothing else I’d rather be.

Fun Fact #4: I’m a child of the 80s and had a bowl cut like my older brother from the time I first got hair until…maybe 1st grade. #thanksmom 😛 Anyway, there’s pictures. They’re hilarious. I may share some in the future for kicks and giggles. haha

Fun Fact #5: I’m a straight shooter. Ha my husband will tell people that my love language to him is brutal honesty. That may or may not have gotten me into a good bit of trouble as a kid. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit has helped me temper that with love. Although, truth be told, its something I have to keep in check. So don’t ask me, if you don’t want the truth. Just gonna go ahead and throw that out there. 😉

So, now you know a little bit of our family birthday tradition and a few fun facts about me! What are your birthday traditions? Comment below! I love to hear how others celebrate within their families! Thanks for stopping by!

For His glory,

circa 2013 – I also really love squirrels. 😀

Faith, Family, Marriage, pastor

Pastor Appreciation

Give me Your eyes to see him as You see him – a full image bearer of Christ who lives in this broken world & will inevitably sin, but may I be as quick to forgive him that You, my Savior, have forgiven me.

The Broken Smile

Here we are, about to end the 2nd week of November and I missed Pastor Appreciation Month (October). It is easy to get so engrossed in our own journey that we forget to look up at those around us. We tend to only acknowledge them when they negatively impact our sphere. Today, however, I want to share the beautiful blessing that my pastor is to me.

My second greatest blessing is my adoring husband, Luke, who also happens to be my pastor. The first being my beloved Savior, Jesus. Luke loves me like the embodiment of Jesus on this earth. Sacrificing his sleep, his time, his health to serve me, his children, and his church flock. He speaks words of life over me in the moments when the pain in my body is winning.* He takes on my responsibilities to let me rest. He’s not a glorified babysitter, he’s a father who adores his children. What an example for our babes to see! Their earthly daddy loving their momma, his bride, like Christ loves his bride, the church! Amen?! (Ephesians 5:25-33)

He’s currently preaching/teaching 5 times throughout the week. He’s there for the flock that the Lord so graciously entrusted to him. But he’s just a man. He’s got 24 hours in the day. And here lately he runs thin. Most don’t see it. I do. God does. I’m so proud of the man I get to call my pastor, partner, and forever best friend.

Father God, bless him and his commitment to You. I so admire his ability to take the criticism of others and frame it in a way to help him grow closer to Jesus. Lord, that I may be so steadfast in the midst of pain. Sometimes we forget a pastor is human. Mine most assuredly is a sinner, he will tell you that he’s the chief among them. As much as he is a sinner, he is redeemed by the blood of Christ and he takes his calling as pastor with such deep and clear conviction. Oh, that I could say the same for myself.

Lest you think this is some sort of saint worship, it is not. These words are the result of clear conviction from the Holy Spirit. The Lord showed me that in my pain and hurt I have become one of those voices of criticism of my pastor. (James 5:9) That instead of seeing all of the ways he has been serving me and my family, I’ve been seeing all that he is not doing. Shame on me!

3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’, when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:3-5

Lord, would that I be more focused on removing the log that is in my own eye and be more a voice of encouragement to my pastor. Father, may I be steadfast and faithful to pray for my pastor. Give me Your eyes to see him as You see him – a full image bearer of Christ who lives in this broken world & will inevitably sin, but may I be as quick to forgive him that You, my Savior, have forgiven me. Amen.

Luke Robinson, I love you and I’m so thankful you are mine!

photo credit: Kortney Boyett Photography

Lastly, let me encourage you to faithfully pray for your pastor – and his family. I am so glad you stopped by today! Feel free to share & drop any prayer requests below in the comments.

In Christ’s redeeming love,

*To read more on this click here

Faith, Family, Marriage

Perception vs Reality: Behind The Broken Smile

I beg your patience as this will be lengthy, but I believe it to be worth the read. This is my first post in almost 2 years. Every time I sat down to write, there was this wall. I couldn’t see past it and was ashamed to admit it so I let the blog go unattended.

Ya’ll, I’m about to get vulnerable. Please, be kind. And if you would pray for me as I can assure you I am trying not to have a small (ok, gigantic!) panic attack as I type knowing I’m publishing this for others to read. Letting people in has always been a struggle of mine, but my desire above all is to glorify the Lord especially in my weakness.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

These last several years have been nothing short of painful torment from migraines to pain that consumes every inch of my body and as of late degenerative arthritis within my spine. If I’m being fully transparent these last few months have been hell on this earth. My body is breaking down, betraying my once vibrant and active self. You might not know it if you see me because I try to hide it with a smile. Not a fake smile, but one that was forged through the darkest of times and came out victorious through Christ.

It began in college after almost 2 decades of non-stop sports. Most weekends consisted of at least a 3 game series maybe more if it was a tournament. Those Sunday mornings I would awaken to what I could only describe as feeling like being hit by a Peterbilt. Even making it to the restroom was a feat which consisted of me hobbling like a 90+ year old in desperate need of a cane. Over time, I came to resent that even in my prime healthy state my body screamed almost constantly with pain. Eventually I gave in. I quit. I quit trying to eat healthy. I quit working out. The depression was dragging me under like a rip tide. And I quit caring.

Consequences of my own sinful gluttony have compounded the horrible genetics that plagues my family. Today the physical pain makes it nearly impossible to function as the wife and mother my family need & deserve. My mind is often so clouded by the pain, that I’ve shut myself off from real face-to-face interactions as its become increasingly harder to form coherent thoughts and have genuine connections with others. Not to mention the internal battle with knowing the person folks see – the obese me – is not who I was or want to be. The shame. It’s massive. It’s always in my mind. There is never a moment where I’m not so self-aware of the size of my body and how it reflects on me, my family, my husband, and my Lord. From this pain has come an even deeper desire to see Jesus…sooner than what He’s planned. Full stop. Yes, yes those thoughts invaded in the midst of agonizing, ever increasing pain. They have screamed loud…and persistent.

No one sees the struggle. It’s invisible, but the pain is ever present.

As I lay my heart open, bare and raw, for the public to see, I know that some will inevitably say, “Well, its your fault. You make the choice of what goes into your body.” “Just suck it up and quit throwing a pity party. You don’t like how things are, then get up and make some changes!” I get it. You have no clue about the depths of depression and severe chronic pain. I don’t blame you for your ignorance. I, too, ashamedly reacted to others without compassion before. Now I know.

If you are still with me, please continue reading. Allow me to share what the Lord has taught me about depression and thankfulness.

God has blessed me abundantly, but even if He hadn’t, if Jesus was all I had…it would be more than I deserve. Hear me. Jesus is my ALL, my everything. He is who I cling to in the dark when I’m writhing in pain unable to sleep. He is my only source of joy in the midst of the sorrow and what sustains me when Satan tempts me to relieve myself of this earthly pain. Jesus is the reason why this broken mess of a woman smiles.

Jesus is the reason why this broken mess of a woman smiles.

The Broken Smile

This is not to say that medicine isn’t a biblical option, because I very much believe that it is. Just as the Lord saw fit to inspire doctors with treatments for cancer and other diseases, I believe that in the right context medicine for depression is valid and needed. However, I believe that first we must take a long, hard look at our hearts. We must ask ourselves the hard questions. How is my walk with Jesus? Am I daily spending time in the Word? Have I sought out biblical counseling? If you’ve done all of those things, but still the depression deepens – talk to your doctor. One of the best decisions I made next to accepting Jesus was recognizing that I needed help. For years I lived in shame that it made me “less than” as a Christian, but after seeking out some solid biblical counseling I have realized that my weaknesses confirm my need for a savior. In Christ I will boast, though He may never remove this “thorn in my flesh”1, I know that it is for my good and His glory.

Friend, if you are reading this and you do not have a relationship with Jesus, I would strongly encourage you to start there. The only remedy for any of our brokenness is Jesus. Please, reach out to me or another believer that you trust.

In Christ’s redeeming love,

1 2 Corinthians 12:7