Blog

Overcoming the Bewitching Hour

I have two bewitching hours. You know, the hours that you are just done with the day? First is suppertime when children are running crazy, hanging on my leg, dog is barking, “mom I’m hungry!!!”, and the noodles overflow. If we survive that,  bedtime is a minefield of emotions. One is crying because her head hurts, one is crying because he doesn’t want the princess cup, and one is moving like a sloth.

Lord help me finish strong.

I prayed at night when I had already let my impatience show. Then I remembered the verse I had read earlier in the day, Colossians 3:12-15.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, … And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15 ESV).

Bear with your people in compassion and patience. Forgive. Love. Let Christ rule your heart even in your bewitching hour. And be thankful.

Let Christ rule your heart even in your bewitching hour. And be thankful.

It was all so good. So perfectly what I needed. But that last line, “And be thankful” was the most important. It was the way to turn my selfish attitude into a serving heart.

As I tucked in my children, I looked at them and smiled. I soaked up their sweet little voices. I didn’t mind the need for extra dreams on their forehead or more snuggles instead of sleep. Jesus helped me finish strong by ruling my heart and creating thankfulness.

And today He reminded me again. As I sat down to read Mark 6:30-34 the disciples have put in a long day of healing, they are tired and hungry. When they list off all they’ve accomplished to Jesus, his response in verse 31 is “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (NIV).

When we are tired. Jesus wants us to come to him, in a quiet place, and He will give us what we need to keep going.denim-1839955_1920

Still while Jesus, in compassion, desired to meet the needs of 5,000, the disciples grumbled… Wouldn’t it be easier just to send them away? We’re tired! It’s late! We’ve done a lot today! Sound familiar? Those are the same thoughts that run through my mind at my bewitching hours.

But Jesus modeled what to do. He took the little food the disciples had, gave thanks and was able to feed 5,000 people with it.

Jesus is the same Son of God now as He was then. And that moment was for us, too.

When we come to Jesus in our grumbling, if we listen, He can redirect our hearts to compassion and thankfulness. Only Jesus can take the little we have left and multiply it to meet the needs of others.

Only Jesus can take the little we have left and multiply it to meet the needs of others.

Truth is I can’t conquer the day alone. Only with Jesus we are able to claim and live out Colossians 3:12-15. He enables us to clothe ourselves with compassion and patience and bear with each other in love, and make our hard moments sweet…

And make our hearts thankful.

 

 

Let’s be REAL…

sunset-401541_1920What are your bewitching hours? Where do you need Jesus to multiply the little you have left into enough patience, love, and mercy for the people around you? At work? At home? With friends or family?

Join A Fruitful Woman community on FB and see what others are saying! Or come to an upcoming WhollyLoved conference .

 

The Most Dangerous Fear

I made my kid throw a boot at a spider because I was afraid to go near it. I hate ferris wheels for fear I will fall out. And tornado sirens make me stop in my tracks. All of us are afraid of something. But I’m guessing if I asked you your biggest fear, you wouldn’t automatically respond, “People!” even though it’s the most dangerous fear there is…..

Read more over at WhollyLoved today. We’re talking living past our fear and into a bold life with Christ! Who doesn’t want that?? Be bold and brave today ladies!

 

 

Public Teachers do God’s work

The leader of the pack was in my public school homeroom. When he wasn’t there he was most likely in in-school suspension. But after weeks and months of standing at my door giving high-fives, smiles, and compliments to students, I had gained his trust. He was in my room asking me to pray. Could a public teacher do God’s work?

“Miss C. you’re Christian, can you pray for me? I think my girlfriend is pregnant.”

How did he know I was Christian? I didn’t tell the class. I wore a cross necklace sometimes but this was public school. I couldn’t say anything about my faith. Right?

Feeling like someone would bust into my room and fire me for praying, I did it anyway. I prayed over his future, over his choices, and spoke truth of God’s love. I couldn’t help but cry. Thankful that I could pray with this one, but wished I could tell each one that God loves them more than anything.

I was thankful I could pray with this one, but wished I could tell each one that God loves them more than anything. 

But Jesus said “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV).

Sometimes I felt like there was a gag in my mouth working in public school. Where I worked, some of the kids were more street smart than I was. But really they were just kids. Kids who needed love– a love big enough to fill in some of the hurt.

I learned quickly that showing the love of Jesus doesn’t have to be with words, or explicit gospel teaching. It truly is about showing. Our loving actions in everyday small ways opens doors for Christ to do big work in people’s hearts.

Our loving actions in everyday small ways opens doors for Christ to do big work in people’s hearts. 

John affirms this saying, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth”(1 John 3:18 NIV).

Some students accidentally called me ‘mom’. Some were in foster care, some homeless, some pregnant, others from loving families. Still they were mine from 7:20-3:10. It was my responsibility to grow their minds and prepare them for the next level.

But in order to do that I had to show them I loved them like my own kid.

It was hard for me to let my oldest son go to kindergarten. And truly it doesn’t really get much easier. My heart hurts a little when he waves on the bus, and I still miss him during the day when he’s not at the table for lunch. But I know how much his teacher loves him as I loved my students. For eight hours a day, Luke is her kid, too.

So I want to say, “Thank you!!” teachers of every level and every school for loving our kids this year. You did God’s work in your classrooms and your love for our kids is one more piece of evidence showing Jesus on this earth.

See you in the fall.

#allthemoms

I was sitting on a bench at the park with a mom-friend having my only adult conversation of the day. Our kids were climbing the tornado slide and shooting hoops independently while we sat and took a break from mothering. Another mom sat across the park from us… in the sand, digging, laughing, and playing with her kids. Soon she got up, put her little boy on her shoulders while pushing a stroller up a hill.

We sat there watching her amazing mom efforts from our cozy restful bench, and I felt a little humbled by her obvious mothering prowess.

“You’re my hero!” I said to the woman who seemed to have more energy than me and my friend combined.

“Oh, I just finally have a day off to be with my kids! Gotta soak it up.” she said waiving off my compliment.

That little moment reminded me that there is no place for comparison in mothering. We are all struggling either inwardly or externally to be the best mom for our kids. And we are all amazing.  For some of us that means taking a break on the bench for sanity, and for some it means being present and playing in the sand.

We are all struggling either inwardly or externally to be the best mom for our kids. And we are all amazing. 

I’ve been on both sides of the mom coin. I’ve been a full-time working mom who misses her kid so much she doesn’t want to go anywhere on the weekends because she wants to soak in every moment with those little snuggle bugs. And I’ve been a stay at home mom who plays all day long and needs her little snuggle bugs to play independently at the park because she’s needs an adult moment.

No matter what way you do it, mothering is the best, hardest, most rewarding, and most emotionally challenging role in a woman’s life. It is full of tender moments that are only experienced between you and your child. And it is full of worry, self-doubt, and fear that you are doing it all wrong or not doing it as well as the next mom.

No matter what way you do it, mothering is the best, hardest, most rewarding, and most emotionally challenging role in a woman’s life.

Here’s some of what I want to say to all my mom friends out there… 

To my pre-moms who are are trying to get pregnant and struggling or who are pregnant and are hyper worried. You are already a good mom because you already love your someday baby and are already wishing and hoping and praying for it’s future. The pregnancy journey can be lonely and long, but God is there to listen to every worry, fear,  or doubt. You will be amazing!

To my SAHMoms of littles who are just plain exhausted. Keep going. Your love and snuggles and never-ending days will be short-lived, but you will smile when you look back on these days and your kids will remember all that you do. Take care of your heart so you can take care of your littles. Know that for you and your life, you are the only person God wanted to take care of those littles which means less of yourself and more of son-2935723_1920them right now. But it’s worth it and you are simply amazing.

To my working mom friends who are equally exhausted. You are loving your kids just as much and you are building confidence in their little hearts as they see you rockin’ it at whatever you do. I remember when my mom finished college in my teen years with high marks and got her first job at a bank. I had never been more proud of her in my life and I told everyone about her accomplishments. She has been my biggest cheerleader in school, and a listening ear for all my dreams in life– no matter how crazy they are. Working moms, you are simply amazing.

To my moms of teens who are just plain lost in the world of adolescence and are hanging on to motherhood by prayers and God’s wisdom. We are here with you to listen and pray and encourage you. Please remember the lessons you learn on this journey and pass them down to us moms of littles. We will need your help soon! You are our role models. Stay strong. You are amazing!

people-2566854_1920

To my single mom friends. You are stronger than anyone I know. You do it all. Often times with no recognition or help. You are master jugglers of work, school, kids, and emotions. You are so strong that sometimes it’s hard for you to accept help and support. But we are with you. We are for you. We are amazed by you as you lead your people in love.

To my moms of kids that face big challenges— kids who suffer from physical illnesses,  learning struggles, mental, emotional, or social battles. It’s just plain harder. I wish I could take some of your burden and lighten your worry load. But the only thing I know is that our God is bigger and stronger than anything that our kids will face. When you feel out of control, He is in control. Let God be God of every moment that feels too big or too much, and let yourself just be you, amazing and wonderful you.

And to my grandmas and mother-in-laws out there. Simply where would we be without you??? We are so thankful for all the meals, hugs, help, love, and wisdom you have filled us with. You tell us we can do it and we believe you. You lift us up when we feel like we have nothing else. You bring coffee and smiles and sanity to our lives. You invest your time in your grandkids when you could be off doing your own thing. You make this mothering business so much lighter and remind us to keep focused on what’s important. You are simply amazing.

I have so much love for all you moms out there. In a world that tells you you are not enough, I just wanted to tell you that you are amazing.

Happy Mother’s Day!

-andrea

Phones vs. Farmer Wave

One arm is out the window basking in sunshine, the other on the wheel. There’s cornfields to my left and a pickup about to pass. I look him in the face as I go by and my pointer finger lifts from the wheel. His does too. Just being seen makes me smile.

My whole life I’ve known that interaction as “the farmer wave”. It’s simple, but there’s something so sweet about it. I’m proud to come from a place where we still acknowledge the presence of another person with a smile, a door held open, or even a farmer wave.

Still, I find the art of seeing people fading even in my town.

If I were the enemy I would think it’s pretty awesome that I can stop an entire generation from looking at each other — from really seeing each other.

I see kids get off the bus-stop with their heads in their phones instead of laughing with friends. Waiting rooms filled with parents staring at screens instead of comforting their child. Whole families at restaurants with devices instead of building memories.

Phones aren’t the devil. The devil is the devil. But if I were the enemy I would think it’s pretty awesome that I can stop an entire generation from looking at each other — from really seeing each other. Just by putting a phone in their hand.

break-2297835_1920

Because if the enemy can stop us from seeing each other, he can stop us from caring about each other. 

And I can write this because I am so guilty. It hurts my heart that my kids have heard, “Just a second…” while I finish a text instead of looking at their sweet faces as they talk to me. Or the fact that sometimes it’s just easier to sit on the couch with my phone than engage in conversation with my husband at the end of a long day.

What makes me want to change is knowing that Jesus’ love for us begins with the fact that He SEES us and He loves us. In fact, scripture is peppered with Jesus seeing and moving in love, compassion, healing, forgiveness, or acceptance.

“Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well” (Matthew 9:22 ESV).

Matthew 9:20-22 shows us one example of how Jesus acts when He sees us…

“And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment,21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well” (Matthew 9:20-22).

I looked up the original Greek for “seeing her” in verse 22 in Strong’s Concordance at Biblehub.com. It means not only to see with the eyes, but that Jesus saw her on a deeper level with his Spirit.

He really saw her.

Jesus understood her. He immediately knew the aching of her spirit. He shared in her pain. You know that feeling when you hurt in your heart for someone you love because they are hurting? He felt that for her because He saw her in her suffering.

He sees us that way too, down to the core of our being. And as his people, we can’t stop truly seeing others. We have to keep our eyes up so our hearts can see people and love them deeply like Jesus.

book-bindings-3176776_1920Journal reflections:

Who needs you to really see them today?

Who is God putting on your heart to reach out to no matter how crazy it may be? See them and make a move to love them today.

Enduring Motherhood

It’s 5:45AM and I’m wiping puke off the toilet. He didn’t quite get there. Two hours before his sister was up scared needing a 5th tuck in. Two hours after puke, his little brother wants to watch Lion Guard. And I am defeated before the day begins. I’m not sure I have the endurance for this day, but I have a choice to make.

Will I grumble through the day? Or will I endure with grace and love following Jesus through the landmines.

And a verse comes to my mind.

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young,” (Isaiah 40:11 NIV).

I stood in my bathroom, one of the only places I can lock the door for a moment and pray those words back to him. Jesus you say you gently lead mothers and I need you to do that today. I need you because I can’t do this day well without you. 

There is something so sacred and precious about the fact that our God sees us mothers and carries us close to his heart. He knows the humble and sometimes exhausting job we have to do. He sees our day and He honors it in his Word saying that He will gently lead us.

Gently. There’s no shove into perfection. No jab when we get it wrong. No guilt-trip that we’re not enough. No. Jesus is an opposite dose of everything the world around us is handing out. He gathers us to himself, carries us close, and gently leads when we surrender our day to him.

Jesus is an opposite dose of everything the world around us is handing out.

I think of you, friend, and what battles you face today. Whether it’s a whole bunch of little moments needing your attention, or a seemingly impossible giant ahead of you. At some point we all will have a day when we stretch ourselves to meet the needs of the people we care for. I pray that you remember Isaiah 40:11 on that day.

That God cares about all the little and big battles. He sees you and is with you especially when it’s hard. He tucks us in close and helps us endure.

 

book-bindings-3176776_1920Journal reflections:

When have you felt God carrying you in the past?

In what circumstances do you need God to gently lead you today?

Read Isaiah 40:11 again. What hits you? What soothes you? What is God saying to you?

 

 

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

The Power of Truth

I listen to the world too much. As I do, I feel my wheels going off the track in motherhood, in womanhood, and in faith. I’m done listening. I’m ready to be the one talking. Ready to fight back with Truth.

If you are a believer in Christ there is a battle going on over you. Over this day ahead of you. Maybe you think I’m over dramatic for saying that, but if we don’t believe it then we’ve already lost because we’ve already lost truth.

We have to know there is a fight going on, and who it’s against before we can start swingin’.

Paul puts it this way, “Finally be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the…powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:10-12 NIV).

We have to know there is a fight going on, and who it’s against before we can start swingin’. Otherwise we miss the target.

I admit, I have swung and missed on dark days. I have jabbed fellow warriors with my words or unkind spirit when I should’ve been saving that energy to fight the real enemy. But sometimes it feels like the fight never ends. I need reinforcements.

That’s why Paul reminded us to be strong in Jesus not ourselves. Because our power runs out, but Jesus has more than enough of all that we need for our day.

“…and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…” (Ephesians 6:13-14) NIV.

God has been pressing on me the importance of holding tight to truth lately. That when the days are long and all of our energy is worn out, God’s truth in the Bible gets us back on track. God’s Word fights back for us in our minds and spirits.

Paul continues saying, “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” (6:16-17 NIV).

I used to think when I opened my Bible it would be too confusing or all I would find was condemnation. But instead I find the Truth.

Truth that I am a loved child of God, that He has and will continue to fight for His daughter, and that Jesus is enough even when I am not. But I had to open up my Bible to find that truth. To believe it down in my gut I had to read it for myself.

I had to open up my Bible to find that truth. To believe it down in my gut I had to read it for myself.

I don’t know who or what you are fighting today, but I know God wanted me to remind you to hold to HIS truth. The truth that says you are not alone in the fight. Jesus has an ample supply of courage and strength for your day. So when you’ve done all you can to stand up straight today, dear friend. Stand firm then in Jesus.

 

Journal reflections:book-bindings-3176776_1920

How have you swung and missed?

What truth is God asking you to trust in today?

Open your Bible to the book of Ephesians. Write down verses that hit you as important and use them for battle!

 

 

 

 

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

I love Jesus but…

I love Jesus, but I cuss a little. I just about died laughing when I read the sign my friend gave me for my writing desk. Then she told me why she bought it for me– because even if we love Jesus we have to remind ourselves daily of some important truths.

Like how Jesus never required perfection.

Most of the people Jesus chose to reveal himself to were very far from perfect

In fact most of the people Jesus chose to reveal himself to were very far from perfect, and less than glamorous. Instead of the righteous Pharisees, His friends started out as social outcasts, murderers, prostitutes, low class fisherman — anyone who wanted more out of life than striving for an invisible goal of perfection.

Because Jesus is our perfection. And we get to breath in a sigh of relief knowing our job is not to prove how good we are, but to live in the grace He won on the cross everyday.

I have been memorizing and resting in Ephesians 2:4-5 lately. Paul writes, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

And He pursued us in our darkest moment, not in our shiniest.

I don’t think we can remind ourselves enough of these truths. God is rich in mercy, not stingy. He has great love for you and me, not just enough to squeak by. And He pursued us in our darkest moment, not in our shiniest.IMG_4918

So we live loved by Jesus and knowing that his grace covers the battles we lost. Claiming that He won’t give up on us, but will keep fighting alongside us until we are filled with his love and mercy. And that is what will make us new and whole.

I don’t know about you, but that is good news for me.

 

 

For You to really live

My belief of the significance of Easter was missing a key element for a long time. I wasn’t hung up on if it all happened. I believed that Jesus died on the cross, conquered death and rose victorious the third day. I believed all the things you are taught in church…

I just didn’t believe Jesus did it for me.

In my mind it was true that Jesus was the Savior of the world, but I felt I personally was on the outside of God’s grace. 

Somehow my sin was too great for the cross. Or surely He wouldn’t have come all that way and suffered so immensely for a rebellious nobody from Nebraska living 2,000 years after the fact. In my mind it was true that Jesus was the Savior of the world, but I felt I was on the outside of grace not knowing or accepting it as my personal gift from God.

Until I needed it more than anything.

In early motherhood I needed the grace of God to be real for me personally. I was broken by anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, and stress. All I saw was black fog and I needed Jesus to be real and to be light not to the world, but to me.

The cross had to take away my junk because I couldn’t hold it any longer. Every day I need Jesus to remind me that I am loved, forgiven and free to just live without any conditions. Because Jesus came to set his Father’s kids free, not so they could keep trying to earn their own Salvation.

Jesus came to set his Father’s kids free, not so they could keep trying to earn their own Salvation.

Knowing that Jesus is for me personally changes everything about life. Really it has given me back back my life. It increases my joy, hope, and thankfulness while banishing fear and inadequacy.

So this Easter my prayer for us all is that we would continue to walk boldly in the freedom won on the cross. Claiming that we are…

FREE to accept love and grace personally from Christ.

FREE to forgive others with his strength and wisdom.

FREE from trying to work for the gift of Salvation.

FREE to believe in your core that God crossed the barrier of heaven and earth…

for you and me. So we could truly live.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10 NIV).

Fighting Fear

I’ve seen it a few times now. A huge ugly hawk floating through the air looking for something to eat. Then out of nowhere, a little bird climbs high. She gets above the menacing hawk, looks down, and dives straight into it– pecking at the hawk’s back. She does it again and again as many times as it takes to drive the predator away. She seems so fearless.

I stand there in the middle of the street looking up and silently rooting for the little bird– marveling at her courage to take on a beast five times her size. And I smile when the hawk gives up and flies away.IMG_3737

I want to be that little bird.

There have been times in my life that I was simply unprepared for scary events. I felt completely out of control and afraid. The threat was real. The fear was justified.

But that’s not how God wants us to live.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV).

As we face the unknown we have to face it knowing that we are not alone in it. We have His Spirit. You have the strength of GOD in you! And that means that we do not have to be afraid.

We may be small, but there is nothing that can scare our God. 

Sometimes we let fear feel more real than God’s power.

Sometimes we let fear feel more real than God’s power. Alone, we see the scary hawk and size it up. We know it’s bigger than us, so we assume it will overtake us. That it’s too big for us to conquer. But that is a lie.

As we climb higher and see the situation through God’s power we can see the truth. There is no health problem too big, no person too messed up, and no situation too far gone with the help of God. Our God is not afraid of the things we see as five times bigger than us. And so with His help, we climb high through prayer and attack fear.

With God we see the scary hawk’s weak spot. We start pecking from above at the enemy’s fear tactics with truth.

We start pecking from above at the enemy’s fear tactics with truth.

We pray. Telling God the truth that we are scared. We tell Him every fear, every what if, every possible troubling thought.

Peck. Peck. Peck.

We ask Him to remind us of His truth. That He loves us and we are His. (Ephesians 1:4-5) That He is with us no matter the outcome. That we have His power and strength within us through His Spirit to conquer anything. Anything. Because nothing can undo the love of God. Nothing. (Romans 8:18-37)

Peck. Peck. Peck.

We ask for His wisdom and power and help and ask Him to be with us– no matter what. And we believe in the truth that God hears us when we ask big things. (1 John 5:13-14) And that He cares about the outcome. He is right there with us as we peck away at all our fears.

Peck. Peck. Peck.

And slowly as we keep pecking away at our fears with God’s truths written on our hearts through His word, we drive away our fear and replace it with His peace.

Most importantly, when we see the big hawk give up and fly away, we remember to praise God for His love and endurance through the battle and for answering our call for help. And we tell everyone we know about how God showed up for us so that more little birds can be strong.

So be strong, little bird.