Category Archives: Faith

All things faith related.

Present in the Chaos

You guys. I can’t believe how much gift wrapping I have left to do before Christmas. Every year I tell myself I’ll have it all done by mid-month so I can just relax and enjoy the downtime before Christmas with my family. Maybe even read a book (gasp). But every year, I just don’t seem to pull it off.

I’m guessing I’m not alone. (Maybe I should be breathing a sigh of relief that I’m at least done with my shopping?) And here we are again, wanting to relish in the season but finding ourselves too busy. Maybe you aren’t physically busy; maybe you’re mentally busy. It amounts to the same thing, doesn’t it? Separation from the people or things we’d rather be able to focus on.

I’m not here to give you Three Magic Ways to Stop Being Busy, although I wish I could. Instead, I’m here to encourage us (yes, myself included) to embrace life right here, right now, no matter how messy, busy, or complicated life might be.

Be present in the chaos.

When just the very top of your to-do list looks like this…

  1. Make cookies for event
  2. Fill out Christmas cards
  3. Finish Christmas shopping
  4.  Spend time with Jesus
  5. Wrap gifts
  6. Play with my kids and/or spend time with friends

…please don’t be planning your Christmas shopping list in your mind while you’re playing with your kids. Be present.

Please don’t be worrying about the Christmas meal plan while you’re spending time with Jesus. Be present.

Please don’t be worrying about (fill in the blank) while you’re filling out cards. Be present.

People have been taking pride in multi-tasking for far too long. I admit, sometimes it’s a necessary evil, but I also realize how soul-sucking it can become. When we multi-task, nothing ever feels done. Our minds are always working on the next task, which means our souls never get a chance to rest and breathe before we move on to the next task or thought.

Be present in the moment, whether you’re spending time with loved ones, cooking, cleaning, or praying. Let yourself fully experience the moment, tell yourself it’s okay to just do one thing at a time, and see if just a little bit of that holiday stress doesn’t melt away.

There’s a quote by Dallas Willard that I just love (which is answering the question of how to be spiritually healthy).

“Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

That’s it. Short. Sweet. Magical.

Whether our hurry is physical or mental, it’s exhausting and is distracting us from God’s full purpose for our lives. Honestly, I ebb and flow in this area of life, but when I’m truly intentional to eliminate hurry and be present in each moment, the peace that it brings is indescribable, and so, so worth it.

 Eliminate the hurry and see what God has in store for you. Be present in each moment, and I’m positive you won’t regret it. You just may end up with enough space in your life, mind, and heart to fully celebrate God coming to earth as a baby in order to begin carrying out his rescue plan for humankind.

Thank you, God, for loving us enough to come to earth in the form of Jesus in order to show us your love in person, reach, and rescue us. Thank you that we can trust your plans for our lives. May we honor and glorify you this season by offering you our hearts, minds, and time. Let us slow down, be present, and embrace each moment as the gift that it is. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Leave me a comment to share your thoughts and your best tips for slowing down when life is busy! And, if you haven’t already, pop on over to the sidebar (or the bottom of your phone) and sign up to receive blog posts and writer updates straight to your email! When you do, you’ll receive a thank-you gift of a printable list of my top ten favorite inspirational quotes and verses! Merry Christmas and thanks for stopping by! Oh, and – shameless plug – if you’re struggling to come up with gift ideas for the kids in your life, check out these books: Under the Dancing Tree by Chip Mattis or Power Up by Jessie Mattis! 🙂 With the magic of Amazon Prime, you still have time!

(One last thing – I just reread my Thanksgiving post and truly had no idea this post was about basically the same thing. Guess we all know time management is my big struggle these days, don’t we?? Haha!)

How Much is Enough?

God helps those who help themselves, they say. Just believe and God will provide, they say.

I serve God by being a classroom parent for my eight-year-old, a children’s church worker, on the worship team, the PTA, and running my own business while chasing after my toddler, they say. I serve God by going to church, working, and living a quiet life, they say.

If we’re really honest with ourselves, I think the question we answer with how we live our lives is: How much is enough for God? Maybe we didn’t even know there was a question, let alone that we were answering it by the way we live our lives. But we are.

Is it okay, I ask, as I currently feel like my ministry is writing, though I could be serving more actively in my local church. Is it okay, asks the person who loves serving in multiple ways, and filling their evenings with meetings and events. Is it okay, asks the person who prefers quiet evenings at home, but is secretly a prayer warrior in the night.

Is it enough?

Am I enough?

As Christ-followers, we strive to please our King. We want to know we’re living our lives to please and serve him.

There’s no doubt that every single person we ask would have their own opinions on how we should best live our lives. We get overwhelmed by what others expect, think, or want from us. We insert artificial expectations (from ourselves, others, or God) into our lives and claim them as fact.

How in the world are we supposed to live up the expectations of ourselves, others, and God? How are we supposed to figure out the best things to pour our energies into without leaving ourselves worn and dry?

This is how:

1. Listen to God, above all else. There will always be other voices making suggestions or even demands for our time. Ask God to speak, and he will. Ask him to help you prioritize your life and he will. Yes, he speaks through the Bible, but it doesn’t end there. Quiet yourself and listen for words, impressions, or pictures that God might want to share with you.

2. Guard your joy and peace. Joy is deeper than happiness. It’s something that comes only from God and it can remain even in seasons of sadness. If our lives are so busy or our priorities are out of whack, our joy and peace suffers, plain and simple. If you’re having trouble reclaiming the joy and peace you know should be yours in Christ, I encourage you to step back. Make the space to reconnect with God and his goodness, even if that means saying “no” to things or even disappointing people. Once your relationship with God is rekindled, keep going wherever he directs.

3. Close your ears to people’s expectations. Sure, there are many trustworthy, well-meaning people who only want to help, but if their words begin leading you into a place of stress and uncertainty, hold your horses and take it straight to God. There are times when the people you’re closest to won’t understand what God is doing. They might think you’ve lost your mind. It’s then when it’s most important to cling to God and the truth he speaks. His opinion is all that matters.

We are each blessed to have different personalities, as well as different thresholds for service, people, activities, and ministries. Serving God wholeheartedly is going to look entirely different for one person than it does for another. That’s okay.

Our differences are by God’s design. As long as we seek him, aim to please him, and follow where he guides, we are enough. No matter what that looks like as it plays out in your life.

You are enough. Because God is enough.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.  – 1 John 3:1 (NLT)

Happy November and have a blessed weekend! Thanks for dropping by!

(Quick reminder – Power Up, the ebook, is on sale for $0.99 through 11/2/19! It’s a great tool for demonstrating to kids what it looks like to have BIG FAITH in everyday life. Get it or gift it at this price before it jumps back to full price!)

Raising Kids Who Follow Jesus

I recently wrote a blog post for an online women’s event called “With Purpose,” which was put together by an inspiring Christian blogger named Lo Tanner (at lotanner.com). My post, which I’ll link to in a second, targets moms (women’s event and all) but it’s completely relevant to dads too.

As Christian parents, our biggest job is to raise children who love Jesus. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, but if we keep focused and trust God’s guidance, we can do our best to raise our kids to follow Jesus.

Disclaimer — my oldest is currently eleven, so I’m not claiming to have this all figured out by any means. (Does anyone ever? I want to read their blog post, if so!) So far, so good. 😉

Also, if you read to the bottom of the post that I’m about to link you to, you can enter to win a signed paperback copy of my inspirational novel, Power Up — do it now before you forget; the winner will be chosen on 11/6! 🙂

Here’s the link: Raising Kids Who Follow Jesus. I hope you leave inspired and encouraged! Thanks for joining me today!

Empowered Kids — Everyday Life with the Holy Spirit

I know I’m not alone when I say readjusting to real life after a great vacation is tricky business. Going from the Florida coast back to Indiana has been less than glamorous. In less than 24 hours we traded palm trees and white sand for broken mowers and the discovery of hornets living in my daughter’s bedroom wall. *shudder*

Though things could certainly be worse, all this ridiculousness has left me with a need to be encouraged. Thankfully I have great family and friends to keep my eyes pointed toward Jesus when things aren’t going according to plan. I also have the encouragement of several blogs I read. That’s what I hope to leave you with today–encouragement, not only from my words, but from being introduced to another blog, which is always full of hope.

I recently wrote a guest blog post for an inspirational blogger named Karen Friday. She and her husband pastor a church in Tennessee and have been in ministry for over thirty years. It’s an honor to be featured on her blog (Karen Girl Friday), so today I’m going to link you to my blog post on her site. Check out “Empowered Kids — Everyday Life with the Holy Spirit” and then browse her other posts too, and I promise you’ll leave encouraged!

Have a great week! 🙂

From Stress to Surrender

“Give your anxieties to God.” “Let Jesus carry you.” “Let the Holy Spirit’s peace cover you.”

All messages I’ve been focused on all month as I’ve been marketing my book, Power Up. All important truths, yes?

But then camp.

Camp, you ask?

Yes. Camp.

My two oldest kids are heading to church camp soon and I recently spent several days FULL of anxiety over my two sweet, innocent homeschool kiddos heading into a world of other kids (strangers who have been exposed to who knows what all) without me there to guide them.

I was about ready to pack up my family and move to an unoccupied mountain where I wouldn’t have to worry about my kids being exposed to this world full of awfulness ever again.

My wheels wouldn’t stop spinning as I thought and over-thought some more, my head filled with lies about the safety (or lack thereof) of my children.

It didn’t take me long to realize how wrong and misguided my focus was. I knew in my head that God would be with them (and me), and I knew my thought patterns were unhealthy, but still. Sometimes it’s hard to change, am I right?

Well, after spending more time in prayer and with Jesus (which I hadn’t been doing enough of and it showed), my thoughts began to shift.

What if, instead of all the horrible scenarios playing out as I had feared – what if their lives changed for the better? Imagine that! What if their relationship with God was ignited and challenged and they developed lifelong friendships? What if separation from their family was just what they needed to be stretched and ultimately learn the joy of letting God take care of them? What if they had exciting adventures and experiences that they could look back on and maybe someday tell their children about?

I’m finally (thank goodness) at a place where I’m genuinely excited for them to go and experience a week of camp.

Clearly, this isn’t just about camp. What’s going on in YOUR life right now that has your wheels spinning and spinning, only digging you deeper into the mud? Where do your thoughts need to shift from “expecting the worst” to seeing the ways God could use the situation in positive ways?

It’s not an easy shift to make, so I challenge you this week to spend more time in prayer. More time deliberately being thankful and speaking aloud the truths of God’s word. Ask God to bring about the change in your mind that you feel you can’t accomplish alone. Seek out a Christian counselor if you’re not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel. Have hope.

And don’t forget this promise from Joshua 1:9:

“This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Lord, I pray for each person reading this, that you would ease the burden in our minds right now. This world is full of burdens and brokenness, but it is also full of goodness and hope. Holy Spirit, bring your hope and truth to replace the lies in our minds. Let us find joy in the middle of trials and laughter in the middle of our storms. Be our joy, peace, and truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Book update: Power Up has been released for about a month now and I’ve gotten some great feedback! I honestly believe this is a book that every grade school aged kid could benefit from. I’ve also gotten great feedback from adults who have told me it opened their eyes to some new ideas. If you know of anyone who might benefit from it, would you help me spread the word? Honestly, this marketing thing is tough, so I appreciate all the help I can get. 🙂 Thanks for following on this journey with me!