Kneeling, Wondering, Deserving

Friday afternoon, I knelt on my bathroom floor, hands on the bathtub, praying. You know when things happen…and they happen in all the ways you wouldn’t prefer? Friday was that day.

I was sick for a few days prior to that afternoon, I hadn’t slept a whole lot, and I hadn’t had much of a conversation with my husband that week. But he had called me that day to let me know that his boss had just informed him he would probably be losing his job in the next few weeks.

Instantly, I went through every scenario in my head. Every bad scenario. The worst of the worst. Before I knew it, I was convincing myself that we could live off of the smallest amount of food we could afford. We could sell some furniture. We could be hermits in our home, using the electricity only when necessary, forgetting about the air conditioner, and just being minimalist, frugal people. I regretted every dollar I spent in the last few weeks, every tiny bit that was “luxuriously” spent on little things like a big red ball for my son, a little drink from Starbucks for myself, or the meal we decided to go out and enjoy at a restaurant rather than at home.

You know when things happen in all the ways that seem to be the wrong ways? I thought that Friday was that day. I was certain that the week leading up to it was just a monstrosity of unfortunate events. A week full of moments to be discouraged, upset, and down-trodden. I was convinced that although this was a moment to show my brave face, I could not muster it. I was on my knees, hiding from my kids, crying on the bathroom floor, wondering, Jesus what did we do to deserve this?

I don’t know what’s coming for us. I don’t know much of anything, but when have I ever? And it occurs to me often, since the other day, that this isn’t a burden. This isn’t a problem. What did we do to deserve this? Nothing. But why not us? And we certainly wouldn’t want it for anyone else, so why not us?

These moments, when the world around us seems to be shaking and shifting, crumbling and falling, are catalytic times that will most likely change the course of our life. Maybe not drastically, maybe only subtly. This moment when we don’t have a clue is the perfect moment to cling to what we do know. Grace has carried me this far. Grace has not left me. Grace will continue to sustain me. The Lord grants me a breath every moment that I live, not the other way around. Why not us?

Consider what God has done:
Who can straighten
    what he has made crooked?
When times are good, be happy;
    but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
    as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover
    anything about their future.
Ecclesiastes 7:13-14

Few Words

 

I’m just going to be real honest with y’all and get down to the nitty gritty.

I’ve got a lot on my heart today that’s keeping me from seeing how good God is. Discouragement is a strong force, and it can pummel even the strongest of souls. I have a lot of words I could say, but I’ll leave with this:

Do not be too hasty to speak your mind before God or too quick to make promises you won’t keep, for God is in heaven and you are on earth.
Therefore, watch your tongue; let your words be few.
 For just as busyness breeds restless dreams, so wordiness reveals the voice of a fool.
Ecclesiastes 5:2-3

Some days, the only thing that God needs from us is a posture of openness & willingness to listen.

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Mother’s Day with matching shirts.

Clock Out

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Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the works of the Lord,
because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58

The works of the Lord. I’ve been trying to put in more hours than I can handle.

Today, I feel stuck in a bit of a “spiritual rut”. I feel weighted down, tired, sunken into deep and heavy sand. I don’t like being here, honestly. I prefer the times in life of great happiness, revelations, and progress, not this stagnant, frustrating stage of rest. Yes, rest. I sat in prayer, slowly unfolding the luggage of my heart, setting it at the feet of God, realizing that I cannot do anything in this season if I’m carrying the weight of my world. I need to rest. Lord knows, I really need to rest.

That’s what today brings. There tends to come a day every so often in my life when God says, “Janelle, take a minute. You don’t need to do everything today. Did you forget that I am capable of everything you are not? And everything has its time? That doesn’t mean everything, all at once. Take a breath. Let Me work. Rest a bit, while I am God and you are not.”

So why the verse?
“Always give yourselves fully to the works of the Lord…”
You don’t have to do it all. Constant movement & progress doesn’t mean growth. Most of the time, for me, it means I’m running in circles. Take a minute, friend. Rest a bit. Wait on the Lord to strengthen your steps. Draw near to Him and let Him do His thing. After all, He is God. And can I get an amen that we are not?

Red Balloons for Ryan

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My heart is heavy today. My Instagram feed has been buzzing with the sad news of a family’s loss, a three and a half-year-old, curly, red-headed sweet face gone from this world. I don’t know the family, but I do know the same God from whom they seek strength.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
2 Cor. 1:3-4

I’m lifting up prayers today for someone I don’t know, along with thousands of others. A friend asked me last week, “Is one prayer as good as 1,000? Is there a point to getting other people to pray for you?” Truth is, I don’t know. I’m not a theologian, scholar, or even a Bible major. But I do know the strength & power of community, rallying around one another in our time of great need, and feeling the great compassionate love of the Father. I hope you pray with me over a sweet family who lost a precious boy way too soon. Prayer is great power. We have the strength of God on our side! There is nothing greater.

Please visit the Diary of an Addict blog to read about Ryan’s story. If you would like to donate to the family, please visit the Thrive Moms blog and click on the donate button in the side bar. Most importantly, pray and pray and pray! God comforts us in our troubles so that we may comfort those in their time of need.

Carpe Diem

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“Do not fail to enter every open door, or be held back by a feeling of unreadiness. I Myself am your preparation. I will give you the needed grace and wisdom for each moment as it comes, and you will rejoice in the victory. For I will overcome timidity, and I Myself will displace inadequacy. This is My work. I will do it Myself through you if you allow yourself to be a channel for the flow of My Spirit.”

“Seize Each Opportunity”, Come Away My Beloved

I have been asked more than once, “What did you do to prepare yourself for having kids?”
The people who are asking are looking for answers like, “We read lots of books”, “We saved up a lot of money for a few years”, “We made sure we had experienced life without kids first”, “We went to every birthing and parenting class we could find”. All of those things are incredibly great for preparing and making sure you’re ready to welcome little people of your own flesh into the world. Some people really do need to prepare in every way because it’s just who they are. But me? I am not that person. I don’t really welcome a lot of help unless I ask for it. It can become an unhealthy level of pride, especially in moments when I know help is exactly what I need, but my stubbornness overshadows it.

Outside of parenting, I cringe and shrink back at the sight of unreadiness, timidity, and inadequacy. I hate being wrong, I hate failing, I hate feeling like I am unprepared. I don’t know why I can jump head-first into having a baby and not flinch. But I do know that when it comes to other things, things like speaking life into people I don’t know, discipling other women, talking to people about Christ, I am terrified to fail. What if they get upset with me for bringing up Jesus? What if they laugh in my face? What if nothing ever comes of my conversations with others? What if..?

Truth is, I am rarely prepared. I am an introvert, and being quiet is so much easier for me. And the thoughts of inadequacy thrive in my mind when I allow them. But, friends, those truths are nothing compared to real Truth. To the Gospel. To my God. There have been far too many times when opportunities have slipped away from me because of my feelings of inadequacy, unreadiness, and timidity. There is never a moment, though, when God is unprepared. He is my preparation. He is my courage. He is my adequacy. How unsuccessful am I when I rely only myself to disciple, encourage & love on others. When He is my vine and my root, what can keep me from taking opportunities? Only myself. Me. I am the one blocking open doors and loosening grips.

This is all God’s work. And when it truly is, when our life is at the mercy of the vine we are grafted into, what can keep us from walking through the open doors before us?

[If you’re wondering what inspires me, the devotional Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts has become one of my favorite ways to dig deeper into God’s love + discover His hopes for me. It isn’t like other devotionals–it is like a book full of love letters. I’m always, always challenged. If you’re looking for a unique perspective into God’s heart, I gladly nod you in that direction!]

My Couch & The Gospel

This is what living out the Gospel in my life looks like:

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My couch. And my journal, Bible, a glass of cold-brewed coffee, and a few baby toys. I’m wearing my husband’s t-shirt. I might be wearing make up, and I might not have showered for a few days. I don’t spend all day sitting here. And I don’t always wear my husband’s clothes. But I do find the Gospel alive and active right here. Right here.

I didn’t always know that. I thought God was active out there. I thought I had to chase after Him and pursue Him through churches, ministries, people (which are some of the best outlets for seeing God, don’t get me wrong). But He’s right here, too, right in front of me, hoping that I learn to dig deep into His truths no matter where I am. And here I am, a stay-at-home mom trying to push past the clichés of this profession I’ve entered and make it into something a whole lot bigger. Guys, I don’t have an office. I don’t have an agenda. I don’t even have a plan. But I have the Gospel. And it’s alive, right here, on my couch.

So what does living out the Gospel look like for you?

With or Without Us

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These boys are getting way too big, way too quickly.

My son Asa will be six months old in a couple of weeks. Time only seems to be going faster and faster, I can only imagine what it will be like when we have another child. I don’t document every milestone with him like I did for Liam. They say you become much more lax with your second, and it’s true. I still haven’t printed any photos of the kid. And documenting major milestones? Forget about it. I’ll just tell him, “Trust me, you developed normally.”

I don’t know if it’s a parent thing, a “getting older” thing, or not even a thing at all, but I feel weighted more often by thoughts of how God works despite anything I do. I am reminded so often. When I find Liam playing and talking in ways he wasn’t the day before. When I rock Asa to sleep and hear God prominently reminding me that this little babe will grow so big some day. When their clothes get too small. When they go through a developmental stage that drives me crazy, yet is vital to their growth. No matter what I do, these things will happen. Life will continue, always.

God moves consistently, with or without us. I get exhausted easily after a few full days with my kids, a lot of errands, and not a lot of down time. I check out mentally some days. I neglect my journal and my Bible because I just want to tune out for a bit. The effects of neglecting to consult God are draining. I disconnect from everyone around me. I take a seat away from the action and lose sight of purpose. My prayers, whenever they escape my lips, are impatient, laced with selfish thoughts and human wisdom. I forget that the God I call out to has a greater magnitude than I can comprehend. Greatest love, greatest mercy, yet I put limits on Him. He keeps moving with or without me.

Friends, I don’t want to check out. I don’t have to be perfect at being a mom, but I do need to be present. I can’t expect my boys to discover greatness if I don’t guide them a little along the way. The same goes for Jesus and me. God is a great, great God, and His wisdom and insight for me is beyond words. It cannot be explained. His love and mercy cannot be described. It’s magnitude is beyond me. Recognizing that, how He is greater than I, is one huge step into letting Him perform His full works. Let’s not limit a gracious God. Taking a seat away from it all? I want to be in the thick of His goodness, not on the outskirts, only experiencing the tiniest taste.