I have an almost three year old! I have an almost three year old 🙁

I have mixed feelings about this in case you can’t tell. I am not sure how time has gone so quickly. When you’re young, three years seems like an eternity. But when you are an adult it’s nothing.

She amazes me every day though, how she’s growing and learning. Having a child helps me understand God better. The love I have for my daughter is like God’s love for us. It is unconditional and strong. Not possible to break.

Then, I also see other aspects of that relationship. When my daughter was a baby she looked to me 100% to take care of all her needs. She knew I was going to take care of her. She couldn’t talk because she hadn’t learned how to. But as she got older she has learned to do some things for herself. She can walk, talk, feed herself. She is becoming more independent.

That’s how we are as Christians. When we first become Christians we are babies. We don’t know as much. We may not know how to “talk” like a Christian, study the Bible, and pray. As we grow in our faith we learn how to do these things on our own.

Sometimes my daughter will say something and I hear myself.  My favorite copy thing she says is to her little sister, “It’s ok honey.” But then she say’s some not so nice things I say to her when I discipline her. “Be quiet” or “Listen to me.” It’s not that those phrases are bad, but the tone she uses cuts like a knife.

She repeats what she hears and what she learns. We are like that as adults, too. When we are filled with the world, the world comes out of our mouths. When we are consumed with Jesus, love and kindness flows out.

Luke 6:45 says: A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

I have learned this through my *almost* three year old. When she is filled up with love and encouragement that is what comes out of her little heart and mouth. When I discipline her with harsh words, that frustration and anger comes out.

When you speak, do you hear Jesus or the world?

I know I want to hear more Jesus coming out of my mouth and heart. To do that, I have to spend more time with him. More time reading, praying, being kind, loving others, and choosing joy.

Heavenly Father, sometimes my heart reflects the world more than it does you. Help me to be mindful of what I put into my mind and of what comes out of my mouth. I want my heart to overflow with your love so that I can speak that to others. Amen.

You don’t mind me being honest here, right?

I didn’t think so. 🙂

I haven’t been doing much reading and studying lately. I have been “busy” or aka focusing on too many other things.

Having grown up in church most of my life I often subconsciously think I know enough scripture. I’ve prayed enough prayers that going without for one day won’t hurt anything. The truth is that one day turns into two turns into three turns into a week and I realize I haven’t spent any quality time with God.

Can you relate?

I look around at other Christians and wonder how they are so connected to God. Sometimes I feel like I’m missing out. I think they got an extra dose of the special sauce that makes an amazing Christian.

The secret really isn’t a magic formula. It’s not something they just automatically are.  The people that I look up to in the faith are committed Christians. They read the word every day, not only read but they study it, meditate on it. They talk to Jesus. They have a relationship with him, are in conversation with him throughout the day. They are in love with Jesus.

So when I start to feel my connection to God weakening, I need to go back to those things. Back to the basics of our beliefs.

Maybe you feel the same way I do. Maybe it’s hard for you to make time for God in your busy schedule. As hard as it is to admit that, it can be true for many of us. It takes discipline. Do you have someone you can be accountable to? Someone that can check in on your reading and prayer life and vice versa? If you don’t have anyone in your life right now that can be your accountability partner let me know! I would love to be that for you, and I could always use another one myself. Let’s encourage each other to continue to grow in our faith so that God can use us to do His work around this world!

Heavenly Father, thank you for your word. Thank you that we can come to you in prayer, that you hear our petitions. Give me discipline to study your word and to spend time in prayer with you each day. Your word carries power and I need that power in my life. Thank you for your grace and mercy, even we mess up you still want us to know you and be in relationship with you. Thank you for giving us others in our lives that can hold us accountable and that we can hold accountable. Amen.

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Psalm 1

I mentioned a little about my church in my last post so I thought I should share some more about it today.

When Brent and I were planning our wedding we were trying to find the perfect place. His dad had started going to the church his family had gone to years ago. We thought we would go check it out as an option. The sanctuary was beautiful. Tall ceilings with tall gorgeous windows. Perfect for a wedding (and FREE 😉 ).

As our wedding approached Brent got to know the pastor pretty well. It was a small church with a larger older congregation. They had a decent size youth group for their church size but they didn’t currently have a youth pastor. Just before our wedding the pastor told Brent that he knew we were going to come to be the youth leaders, he was just waiting for God to tell us. The day we got back from our honeymoon was a 5th Sunday night singing. We went, and at the end of the service Brent stood up and told them we were the new youth leaders. Pretty funny actually.

I could write for days about our experience with this youth group. In the beginning they hated us because we gave their last youth leader had hurt them and they didn’t trust us. Slowly, after a lot of conversations and tears (mostly mine) we began to build relationships with them. They are now an extension of our family. We have 2 biological children and about 10 adopted ones. They are our kids.

A lot of small churches are struggling right now, and Southside hasn’t been exempt from that.  We are a small baptist church, I’m pretty sure you can imagine some of the struggles we have faced as a congregation because they are much like every other small baptist church right now. The culture has changed tremendously and it’s a battle to move forward to be able to reach the younger generation.

We have a new pastor now, he is actually the pastor that married me and Brent! He is dedicated to seeing our church grow. But more than that, finding some common ground that can unify the church body towards reaching others. We have a praise band now that is all girls, most of them are youth. It is just amazing to see the young people serving the Lord.

Brent and I have been through some difficult times at our church. Many of them were struggles that not many people knew about. I told Brent several times, if things don’t change in 3 months I’m leaving. But we stayed anyway. Even though things didn’t change for a long time.

We are coming up on 5 years at Southside. Five years of working hard, praying, investing, and pouring our hearts into this church. Five years of seeing very little change or growth. But, finally we can begin to see the fruits of our labor. The harvest is finally coming and I believe we are only in the beginning stages. I believe that God is getting ready to pour out his blessings on Southside. I believe hearts and lives are going to be changed. I believe we are going to fill our buildings with people that love Christ and are longing to be near him. We are so close I can almost feel it.

When God calls you somewhere, or when you’re praying for something to happen, don’t give up just because it doesn’t work out the way you think right away. Sometimes God calls us places we don’t want to be, to do work we didn’t know we wanted to do, to change us first so then we can make a difference. Be open to the opportunities God puts before you. You never know when one might change your life forever.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Before Peter stepped out onto the lake he asked Jesus to tell him to come to him. When Jesus did Peter trusted him and took those first steps.

The wind began to blow and feeling the effects of the storm Peter was afraid. He took his focus off Jesus and began to sink. He cried out to Jesus.

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31

Ouch. I’m not sure I would want Jesus to ask me that face to face.

But he has.

Several times in fact.

God has told me to do things, I make sure it’s from him, take a few steps then feel unsteady and begin to sink.

A couple of years ago my husband and I had to make a very difficult decision. I can say it was the hardest thing we have had to do as a couple. We prayed and made sure it was what God wanted us to do. We thought it would be a quick process like ripping off a bandaid, but instead it was a long, messy, emotional time.

I remember questioning why we had done this, and felt like I was sinking. We had confronted sin and saw the consequences playing out in someone else’s life. I was overwhelmed. I did not have faith that God was going to see us through.

I felt that sting of reprimand when God pulled me up. Why had I doubted? I knew we were doing what God told us to.

Now that we are almost 2 years removed from the situation I can see how God has blessed the lives of those affected. I can see the restoration and growth.

I’m not thankful for the times that I doubt. They can feel very scary and out of control. But these times end up growing my faith even more. When I call out to God I know he is going to come to my rescue. He saves me. Then I have to have that hard conversation of why I doubted.

Surprisingly I learn about myself in these situations.

We are all like Peter at some point, maybe many points, in life. Even though we trust God and Jesus, life gets stormy and we lose our focus on the task God originally called us to.

I don’t have many wise words about how not to doubt. I believe we all do it. When you do feel yourself begin to sink from your doubt call out to Jesus. He will be there to pull you back up to the surface so you can continue to walk in the purpose he has called you to.

Comparison hurts everyone.

It is the thief of joy.

I’m not sure exactly what I thought would happen when I started my Facebook page and blog. Part of me must have thought that I would have new page likes and blog subscribers every day. There is a very realistic part of me that knew and knows that it is a lot of work and takes time. But, that doesn’t always help the first part of me.

I follow a lot of amazing Christian women on Facebook. They have wonderful posts, beautiful pictures, and lots of followers.  I’m going to be honest, sometimes I look at their posts and think, “Wow, that must be so amazing to have that many likes and comments on one of your posts!” I get a little envious of those numbers.

On the surface, it’s about the numbers, but those numbers represent people. It represents the impact that you have on your followers. I’m more envious of the impact they have than of the amount of likes they receive.

When I compare what I’m doing to something someone else has been doing for YEARS, I can get discouraged. Comparison takes away my confidence. It takes away my belief that God is going to make an impact through my pages.

Everyone compares, its part of our human nature. We want validation in what we are doing so we look to others who are doing similar things. I do not think that in itself is a bad thing because we can learn so much from those who have gone before us. Chances are they learned from those who went before them. The problem comes when we think of them as better than and ourselves as less than.

The truth is, God didn’t create you for their success, job, accolades, fortune, impact or whatever it is you’re looking at. He created THEM for the things they are doing, and he created YOU for the things you are doing.  Even if they look similar, they aren’t the same!

When you compare yourself to one of your friends and become envious you could hurt them, too. If they know you are envious of their success, they may feel guilt that you want what they have worked for. It’s a dangerous place to mess with.

It steals joy. Your joy for where you are at and where you’re going, and the joy of the one you’re comparing yourself to. You can’t be happy for all the great things someone else is accomplishing if you are envious of it.

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Galatians 6:4-5

God, help me to be content with where you have placed me. Help me be happy for those succeeding and let me be a source of encouragement for them. Let me learn from those who have gone before me so that one day I can help lead the next generation. Amen.