Things I Learned After I Said Yes

I have no idea how to do that!  Where will I find the time?  Uncomfortableness and overwhelm hovered in my heart. At the same time, a stronger pull captivated my attention.

Only months had passed since our move from Texas to South Carolina, and the days were full. . . Have you ever noticed how God sometimes interrupts our plan with his? He taught me a lot through this unexpected chapter of recording the audio book, and I hope that my experience encourages you along the way of your story.

Grace upon grace, undeserved yet purposed. A year after Becoming A Peaceful Mom was published, a friend encouraged me to consider narrating an audio version and recommended a publisher. After much prayer, God’s peace anchored my unconfident heart and I committed to him to go forward with this. Yet, the following months brought unrelated challenges and struggles, plus the heartache of losing my mom. A year passed. One evening I was at a party, and, would you believe I saw that same friend who lives in another city. . . She asked if I ever recorded the audio book.

Working through unmet self-expectations. Her words met my heart with unexpected joy. I had laid down the audio book idea, after so much time passed. But thoughts like, ‘I dropped the ball’…’Maybe somehow I was supposed to fit it in’… ‘I missed a great opportunity,’ nagged me. Sometimes we unknowingly impose self-expectations and burden our self unnecessarily.  Self-expectations belong in the hands of God. Only then do we receive his grace, and invite his way forward.

Why didn’t I think of this? No idea…except that, maybe I wasn’t meant to? Maybe I didn’t see this possibility in me or for me? God entwines our lives with others. He privileges you and me to be his vessels as messenger, encourager, helper, counselor, example, teacher, etc. Likewise, he blesses us through his vessels. Prayerfully consider suggestions, supportive remarks, and encouraging evidences that you experience.

Sometimes our heart isn’t ready to hear. Recently, someone told me that she suggested this idea even longer ago. I don’t remember it, but today her words have settled into my heart as fresh encouragement toward a vision that I could not imagine two years ago. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” (1 Thessalonians 5.11)  Pray for the hearer, as we never know the obstacles in their heart or life.

God’s ways are not our ways. I struggled with how it would look for the audio book to be released 2 years after the book was published. Promoting your own work is awkward enough and now I was going to re-promote the same material. I released to God fear of what people might think and fear of what the outcome of this project might be. God’s ‘way’ surfaced a weak place in my heart that he strengthened. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55.8)

Say yes to God.  Often I vented, “God, I feel so inadequate! This is so unfamiliar! My yes is to you. Please help me.” Yes is a step–in faith–toward God. He doesn’t measure our step size; he’s glad that we’re stepping. My first step was an email to the potential publisher. Step 2 was a phone call to learn more. Step 3 was realizing this was ‘right’ and calling my husband with my heart in my throat to say, “Oh my gosh, I’m really doing this!” I took baby steps. God holds our hand and tenderly whispers, “I’ve got you.”

Trust God. The unexpected can disorient and discourage us. After a day of recording, my vocal cords hurt and fatigue kicked in. I slept 3 hours that night. After a good cry, I threw off the covers and resolved, ‘God, you got me here. You know how much sleep I had. My trust has to be in you. Help me trust you.’ God’s power makes us more than conquerors.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3.5-6)

Are you facing something unfamiliar, unexpected, or overwhelming?

Maybe it’s a college or graduate course you’re taking or dreading?
Maybe you feel like you need to enter or re-enter the job market?
Maybe it’s how you see yourself as a mom?
Maybe you’re at a crossroads and you’ve no idea which way to go?
Maybe you have a deep desire or dream that’s unfulfilled and you’re wondering if it ever will be?

He unfolds a perfect plan in our imperfect lives.  God is near to you and wants to be nearer.

Dear God,
Thank you that you are with me. Help me draw closer and take each step, with you. Amen.

Last month I announced this audio-book for Becoming A Peaceful Mom—Through Every Season of Raising Your Child. I hope you’ll check it out—and help me spread the word!

When We Encourage Our Child

img_0042My children never said, “Mom, I need you to encourage me.” In fact, there were times when I did encourage a child, and he would say, “You’re just saying that because you’re my mom.” Well, I was saying it because I’m his mom. And I meant every word.

“I have sent him to you for this very purpose . . .  that he may encourage your hearts.” (Colossians 4.8) The apostle Paul sent messengers to believers in various towns to encourage them to press on in their walk with Jesus.

Encouragement during a challenging circumstance—or an ordinary day—builds a hope-filled perspective. Encouragement sticks. We remember encouragement, even when we struggle to receive it when it’s given.

When someone speaks or even writes encouragement to me, it’s as though fresh air rushes into my lungs. Some days I yearn for encouragement. Other days it’s not until I receive it that I realize how deeply I needed it. This is true for our children—Some days they yearn for encouragement, concerning the many things we are teaching them. When   such words meet their ears, God’s love touches a place in their needy heart. What a sweet privilege God gives us.

img_0043God intends for us to be a significant vessel of encouragement to our child—to speak words of life and hope. When we encourage a child, we help her. We give her courage and inspiration to consider, to try, to persevere.

God, show me / teach me how to encourage my child. God knows our strengths and weaknesses. When we humbly depend on him, he meets our weakness with his strength. His love is our source of encouragement. When we seek his love and lived loved by him, authentic words of encouragement will flow from our heart.

Your picture is so cool! .
I love the way you came inside the first time I called you!
You studied so hard. I’m proud of your effort.
I’m so glad you decided not to go, just because everyone was going.
I admire you for . . .

dsc01369The hardest time to encourage our child is when tension exists between us. Too often in times like these, our words reflect our heart’s struggle—hurt, fear, disappointment, discouragement, or anger. It’s especially in these seasons that words of encouragement are so important. A child knows when he disappoints us. He needs to know he is loved, just as we know that no matter what God loves us.

Dear God,
Thank you for the privilege to be your vessel of encouragement to my child. Help me speak words of life, hope, courage, and inspiration every day. Amen.