About PursuePeaceBlog

I'm a stay-at-home mom of three, striving everyday to serve and honor Christ by serving my family.

Overcoming Fear

Image

I am constantly living in fear.

Last week I heard one of my dearest friends, a strong and Godly woman whose faith I profoundly respect, confess these words.

The existence of fear in a Christian’s life is an absurd idea. Since we are supposed to know the power of Christ, fear should never have a chance to get a foothold in our minds. However, fear seems to be Satan’s weapon of choice against many Christians, especially Christian women.

From a worldly perspective, Christian women have many things to fear: their children’s safety, their financial security, their own health and their family’s health, and the list never ends.woman-1150111_1920

From God’s perspective, a woman should fear nothing and enjoy indescribable joy and freedom in the arms of Christ– a freedom that is ours for the taking.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41:10

This is one of over 300 verses in the Bible where we are instructed not to fear.

Why then is it so hard to turn away from fear?

Satan is skilled in the art of dressing up fear to look like truth. In fact, many of our fears are born out of our own experiences and realities.

I fear for my children’s health because the fact of the matter is, a healthy child is not a guarantee in this broken world.

bank-note-941246_1920I fear for my financial security because through 5 years of marriage I have seen our financial situation ebb and flow in some dramatic ways. These are my realities, so naturally, these are my fears.

However, God asks us to live in His reality, which is a much better place to spend our time.

Even though, I have never been fully released from my fear of losing financial stability, God has been faithful to us and shown me over and over that His provision will always be enough (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Even though, the loss of one of my family members is a thought that nearly brings me to my knees, the Bible tells me that even in our darkest moments, God is sovereign and His love for us is all we need (Psalm 16:5).

I have lived with a debilitating fear since I was a young girl. It has been the culprit for my anxiety, my panic attacks, and many desperate prayers. Until I became a mother and recognized it as a stronghold in my life, I accepted it as a part of me; it is just the way I am.

Let’s stop right there: No matter what fear has taken root in your life, no matter how real it is, how logical it appears, fear is not a part of who you are. Fear is sin, and because of Christ, a true believer is no longer a slave to sin, but rather is a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:18). The enemy wants us to believe we cannot be free, so he feeds us this lie in hundreds of different ways: This is just who you are.

God did not intend for his children to live in a constant state of fear; in fact, his desire for us sets the idea of fear ablaze.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. ~John 8:36

As I struggle to free myself from the fears that have held me down for so long, God continually reminds me Jesus is the answer.bible-1149924_1920

Of course, I have been a Christian all my life so I know Jesus is the answer to everything.

However, the more I prayed about my fears, the more God kept whispering this idea into my heart until it finally took root.

Spending time in God’s Word and learning more about who Christ is has released me from many of the toxic thoughts I was convinced I would never be free from.

Knowing the Word of God ensures a Christian woman that she will be able to combat her habitual and fearful thoughts with a piece of truth right from God’s mouth.

If we spend our time in the world, and therefore, outside of God’s Word, we will not know Him well enough to be confident in His promises to keep us from fear. Therefore, fear will easily infiltrate our everyday thoughts.

hands-2667461_1920On the other hand, if our thoughts are full of God’s unending wisdom we will recognize a fear for what it is and not allow it to take root in our vulnerable minds.

I am thanking God today that He has revealed His truth to me and I have experienced moments free from fear. As I draw nearer and nearer to Him each day, these free-filled moments will become more frequent, and I will get to see Christ’s power working in my life.

Advertisements

Authenticity in the Christian Life

Image

A lot of people think I have it all together.

They say I am mature for my age, or I carry myself well, or they would have never guessed I’m only 28.

20181117_160554My husband gets irritated with me because I never take these comments as complimentary, which I know is how they are meant.

Other times, the comments are not intended to be complimentary and are dripping with sarcasm: Well, of course, your house is always clean. Not all of us can have good babies. Well you are just perfect, aren’t you? 

When I hear any of these comments, I often wonder how authentic I am being when I am outside the walls of my home.

The way I am perceived is certainly not the way that I am feeling.

I am an honest person. If you ask me a direct question about myself or my sins, I will be very forthcoming about my weaknesses. In fact, my brutal honesty has been a problem for me in the past.

Those who truly know me, who show a genuine interest in who I am, know that many areas of my life are messy, despite the fact that I work on them.

However, in my acquaintances and even in closer relationships with young women, I often discover that I am not portraying my real self to them.

When I am outside in the world, I strive to display a respectful and honoring wife, a patient and devoted mother–basically the me I wish I was.20181116_132355

When I am safely inside the walls of my home, I lose patience with my children, verbally poke at my husband, and struggle excessively with my favorite sin of all — gossip.

Unfortunately, my family gets the worst of me while the world sees my polished life.

I have struggled with how God would have me reconcile these two pieces of my life. I don’t believe He intends for me to air my dirty laundry — to make sure everyone knows just what kind of sinner I really am. However, I don’t want to be a discouragement to those with a younger faith, who view my polished life as unattainable.

The thing is that I don’t have it all together. My life is messy, my home is messy, my faith is messy. I mess up with my kids, my husband, and other important relationships every day.

So what does true authenticity mean to the Christian life?

Of course, we are to model ourselves after Jesus for He was the most authentic of all, but Jesus didn’t have any sins to cover, or dirty laundry shoved in the closet.

I think it is a matter of the heart. The fact is that it does not matter how others perceive me. It is my heart that matters. Am I polishing my life before I step out the door to impress others or to further the Gospel by representing the Christian life? 

Airing my dirty laundry will not attract others to the Christian life, however, pretending to be above the mess won’t either. If I am pretending to be free of problems I will certainly not draw someone to Christ who is heavily burdened. However, I am Christ’s ambassador and am to reflect a transformed life, even when I don’t feel transformed.

In 1 Peter 3:15, God says,

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…

20181015_152240I have no better testimony to the living work of Christ than my own transformed life. Therefore, this life should always be on display. So I pray that people will see my polished life and wonder how I achieved it; I pray they will come to me to find out more; and I pray that I will be ready to share with them that I am nothing but a filthy failure, that it is the Father who lives in me, the Father who I reflect in my daily life, the Father who is perfect.

Unfortunately, these things are out of my control. There is nothing I can do for those who believe I have everything together, other than pray that someday they will come to me to find out the real truth of my “togetherness” — and that truth is Christ. You see, perhaps I do polish my life before I leave my house, but it is Christ who makes me shine. 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. ~1 Peter 2:9

This is not Heaven

Image

There is just never enough time.

I snapped at my three-year-old today because he made his third request while I was trying to wash the breakfast dishes. I knew I had to get them washed before we left for story time at the library, otherwise they would be waiting for me when we got back, and once the lunch dishes were piled on them, the task would look even less appealing.

So when my oldest asked me to help him find his favorite book, I snapped.

20181109_103140I try to remind myself every day that I do not need to get uptight about my to-do list, that everything will get done in its time, that my life at home is about my children, not about my chores.

However, I find that when I focus on the kids for an extended amount of time — take them outside to play for a couple hours, hunt dinosaurs in our basement, or build a village with their Lincoln Logs — I only feel stressed about the three loads of laundry I haven’t folded and the supper I haven’t started.

I am in a constant state of tension, being pulled between housework, quality time with my children, and my own hobbies. My hobbies might not be necessary except they are my desperate attempt to cling to the me I once was.

There is just never enough time.

When I was a childless teacher, productivity was my strongest quality. I had never even considered procrastinating, and I was a multi-tasking machine.

I never left a task until the last minute, and I certainly never left a task before it was completed.

Oh how times have changed!20181116_152303

I am lucky if I complete one task each day. The toys are always half put away, the bathroom half-cleaned, the book half-read, the blog post half-written.

I find myself leaving the vacuum out in the morning after I vacuum half my house, anticipating that I will vacuum the rest within the hour, but when my husband comes home at 5:30, the vacuum is still sitting there, waiting to finish its tour.

I don’t remember the last time my dryer was free of a load of clothes. Each day I start on the laundry with zeal, sure that today will be the day I get it washed, dried, and folded, but I end up going to bed with three loads to fold and one load still in the washer.

Whenever I do attempt several tasks at once, I end up burning dinner, sending the wrong bill in the mail, and yelling at my kids.

If I do manage to complete a task, my children are always right behind me ready and willing to undo the work I just did.

20181015_151400There is just never enough time.

I complain to my husband about my life’s lack of moderation.

I just want to do it all.

I want to get my family’s Christmas stockings sewn, my blog post uploaded, and my book finished.

I want to play dinosaurs with my boys, lie on the floor visiting with my newborn, and not be in a rush at their bedtimes.

I want to get the bathrooms, floors, and surfaces cleaned in one day, instead of stretching it out throughout the week.

There just is never enough time.

Obviously I am not meant to do it all, but the fact of the matter is that life asks me to do it all.

I have to keep my house clean. I have to make sure my children feel loved and protected. I have to feed my family three healthy meals. I have to run the errands. It is God’s calling for my life that I stay home with my children and build a loving, healthy, and comfortable environment around them. Perhaps God just didn’t realize what this actually entailed.

My husband reminds me that the kids are all that matters; however, I know this isn’t entirely true, since I have seen what happens to our house, our finances, and our pantry when I let my children monopolize my time.

There is just never enough time.

Ah, perhaps that is my answer! Of course, there will never be enough time! As I strive for perfection in my life, for a day that is laid out exactly how I would have it: A day where the house is spotless, the children are fully known and loved, the cupboards are full, and the to-do list is empty is just not possible on this earth.

Through years of desperately trying to balance the thousands of things I must complete in one day, I have finally realized with my third child that there will never be enough time and, more importantly, I will never be enough.20181011_181634

And that’s okay.

I am rushing around and striving harder than I did as a full-time teacher to achieve the impossible, to achieve perfection, to achieve my little heaven on earth.

God does not intend for me to have success in every area of my life. He asks me to walk with Him, trust Him, and leave it all to Him. He is enough, and I am not. This is not heaven.

Instead of stressing about my lists, I ask God each morning to guide my steps and show me where He would have me go. I ask him to reveal to me what order my priorities should be placed and not to let the world dictate what I should and should not get done.

Homemaking really isn’t my calling. Motherhood is my calling. So when the homemaking side of things causes me to show impatience and anger toward my children, there is clearly a problem. My children should never be an inconvenience; God has shown me that I must learn to delight in the mundane and even the moments of discipline because it is God who reigns over my day, and He creates each and every minute. All He asks is that I give it back to Him.

God does not look at me at the end of each day and survey what I managed to accomplish, instead He looks at me each evening with delight because I am His child and He knows that someday I will get to know what a perfect day actually looks like.

Marriage in the Mayhem

Image

Let’s talk about a Christian marriage, and even though I am at risk of sounding very mushy (which I hate) let’s talk about what marriage looks like to a young couple with young children.

I was listening to Focus on the Family the other day when a couple, who makes their living counseling other couples, explained that they make sure to have a date night every week.

Um…. what?

1465745_10151975777125376_282087542_oAs they were describing their date nights, I assumed they managed one once a month, maybe twice a month. It never occurred to me for a minute that with five kids, this couple managed a date night every week.

They explained how grateful they were for establishing this essential time together, and because of it, their marriage has flourished. Well… how wonderful for them!

My husband and I attempt one date a month, but usually manage to accomplish one every three months.

As I reflected on our failure to make it out the door once in a while, just the two of us, I thought of all the reasons this isn’t plausible. I have been pregnant for half of our five year marriage, which means we have had a newborn every year and a half. Since I stay home with our kids, I am never in a hurry to hire a babysitter and leave my infant to cry and resist a bottle while my husband and I try to enjoy a movie, all the while thinking about how our infant is doing.

The stability of our marriage has never been in question, nor has my husband’s infinite loyalty to me and our family. Connecting with him simply looks different than it did before children.

Sometimes it is in the grin he shoots me across the supper table while one kid talks like it’s going out of style, the other cries for more bread while he throws veggies at the centerpiece, and the other squirms and squeals in my arms. It is in my husband’s grin that I’m reminded of our immense blessings and the love between us that started it all.20180704_215954

Sometimes it is when he grabs my hand while he reads our kids a bedtime story. I’m sitting on the bottom bunk rocking our littlest and the other two are on his lap, but yet, we manage a brief and unspoken moment together.

Sometimes it is in the evening, after a particularly hectic bedtime routine has finally come to an end, when he chooses to sit next to me on the couch, instead of across the room in his own chair. We are too exhausted to talk, so we just watch Netflix and breathe the same air.

Sometimes he surprises me with a bottle of Dr. Pepper, reminding me that he thinks of me even when he is busy at work.

Sometimes I climb into my suburban, running out of daylight to make it to the grocery store, and I notice that he has filled it up with gas, eliminating at least one line on my to-do list.

Sometimes I watch across the dinner table, the kids having been excused long ago with untouched food, as my husband takes another forkful of what I know is a meal falling short of flavor or anything redeeming at all. Yet, he eats it, without complaint, thanking me for taking the time to put food on the table.

Sometimes he stays up late completing one of my many Pinterest projects in the garage. I know he has no desire to have it done and hanging on our wall, but he knows it is important to me.

20181104_201925Sometimes, after saying goodbye to each of our kids, he forgets to kiss me goodbye before he rushes out the door to work. A few minutes later, he strides back through the door, refusing to leave the house without giving me at least a second of his attention.

Sometimes he lets me go spend our money, even though we don’t have enough of it, to get my nails done or buy an outfit I don’t need, just because he knows it makes me feel good to still spend a little money on myself.

Sometimes he listens intently as I weave him in and out of the windy road of my mind and my worries, all the while knowing he won’t be able to help– yet he never fails to listen and remind me, “It will be okay.”

Sometimes he throws in a load of laundry without reminding me I should have had it done days ago.

Sometimes he takes our boys to the basement and burns off endless amounts of their energy because he knows I need some quiet.20180827_092949

Sometimes it is when we clean up the supper table together, just so we can spend some time alone as the kids throw dinosaurs around the living room, unsupervised for a few short minutes.

You see, my husband and I are right in the messiness of this life. We are truly consumed with raising three faithful children and they need our constant and undivided attention. These children are a product of the love between us, and even though this love is sometimes neglected, it is never forgotten.

1523710_10152117002730376_852043122_oI don’t mean to imply that our marriage does not need to be a priority, in fact, we are warned in the Bible about the dangers of neglecting our marriage. However, a young couple with many children simply needs to do what they can, and look for the expressions of love where they can. We still strive to have dates and alone time, but when we fail at these things, I will still see him and he will still see me.

Someday he will be all that is left in this life. We will be old and our kids will be gone, but he will still be there. Then maybe, just maybe, we will have the opportunity to finish one of our conversations.

Not Today, Satan

Image

Exhausted from playing “the shark game” with my boys this afternoon at the park, I decided to sit out for awhile and watch them race down the double red slides.

As I smiled at their smiles, my eyes wandered over to a big blue van that had just pulled into the handicap spot. Later, I watched this young mom push her disabled son on the zipline, happy to observe that he did not seem to take notice of the able-bodied children running around him, and they took no notice of him. A feeling of immense gratitude washed over me as I yelled at my oldest for heading down a particularly dangerous slide head first. He squealed, “Okay, mom!” as he ran around the equipment for another try at the monkey bars.20181022_204232

As I thanked God for my three healthy children, an uninvited, but not all that surprising, thought entered my mind:

What if all of it is taken away from you?

A thought like that could not have come from anywhere, but the one and only, the giver of crap, the father of lies, good ol’ Satan. Attacking a young mom’s blissful moment with her children has Satan written all over it.

It shouldn’t be a secret that I, as a young mom, often push away illogical fears of sick children, injured children, kidnapped children, and the list goes on. I know I’m not alone, either. The constant bombardment of media telling parents what we should and should not fear guarantees we will never feel completely free from worry.

Of course, Satan has seen my weakness (my unrelenting love for my children) and my strength (my complete dependence on God to raise them in a way that honors Him); so what better way to attack a perfect moment than to remind me I could lose it?

Satan wants to steal our joy; in fact, I think it may be his greatest weapon against us. In 1 Peter, he is described as a lion, and lions are excellent hunters. Then in John, we are reminded that he does nothing but steal, kill, and destroy. Since my joy in the life the Lord has blessed me with is something that draws me near to Him, it is also something Satan has on his radar to steal from me.

20181022_204253

On many occasions, I have had a thought like this and allowed it to get a foothold on my heart, with absolutely no resistance. Gosh, that’s a good point, I should probably be afraid of that. However, these are the moments that Satan has caught me unaware, usually when I am weak in my prayer life. Satan’s lies are so deceiving they cause us to believe perhaps our logic and intellect brought such a thought to the surface. Just as Eve engaged in conversation with the serpent, I often allow one of these lies to fester within me, until it becomes truth.

Today, however, he had no power over me. Possible pain in the future will have no control over my joy in the present. Today I have three healthy kids, and God willing I will have this for the rest of my life. I am the child of a God who is infinitely more powerful than any lie Satan can feed me.

Let him never catch us unaware.

To the Mother of the Boy at the Park

Image

Today at the park your son annoyed and frustrated me.

He begged me to play with him.

He threw sand at my children.

He hovered over our snack.

He dug in my purse.

He followed me to my car.

barefoot-3569057_1920He picked at every single fiber of my patience, while my son grappled to understand why he was behaving the way that he was.

This boy had a daycare provider who wouldn’t have noticed if he had crawled into my car, something he desperately wanted to do.

You see, this boy could sense that my children were loved, well cared for, and happy, and he was desperate for the same stability.

Despite the selfishness I had to shake off each time he approached me, I attempted to love him the best that I could–to show him a piece of the Jesus that he will search for until he finds.

I don’t know who you are. In fact the only thing I do know about you is that you’re this boy’s mother. I don’t know what kind of difficulties you’ve overcome or how many jobs you work or how hard it is for you to afford groceries, but I do know that your son needs you.

His desperation for my attention told me as much. You gave up the right to settle for a less than stellar lifestyle when you brought him into the world — his beautiful curly hair and deep brown eyes.child-817373_1920

You gave up the right to ignore him, to leave him in the care of someone who ignores him– he is yours, and he is perhaps the one perfect and marvelous thing that you have gotten right. You need to treat him like he is the greatest gift you will ever receive, because he is.

I know that perhaps your life has been hard. I know I may speak of things that I just don’t understand. The only thing about you that I do understand is that your son does not have everything he needs, and this is not okay with me. It is not okay with me that he is growing up in a place where he feels as though he lacks an unconditional love. The unconditional love he saw me offer my children while they played carefree at the park.

swing-846077_1920You see, no matter where you come from or the difficulties you face each day, everything your son needs from you is free. He needs your attention and your love. He needs to know that he is the most important thing in your life. He needs you to step forward and accept the incredible and unique task of raising a boy into a man. There is perhaps no greater calling.

I wish I knew you, and I wish I had the opportunity to help you, to show you some compassion. I do promise you that I’ll lift you up to God in prayer each time your son crosses my mind, which so far has been very frequently, and I will pray that someday you do meet someone that is able to help you rise above your circumstances and show your son how to rise above his.

The Small Heart of a Big Sinner

Image

My toddler’s defiance is not about me. This is some of the best parenting advice I have ever received.

20180817_063923It is so difficult to avoid viewing my son’s misbehavior as an attack against me. When a child rebels, it is natural for a parent to feel offended, hurt, angry–and dare I say, inconvenienced. However, a child does not rebel to hurt his parents, he rebels because of his sinful nature. When I remember my son’s misbehavior is a product of his human sinfulness, instead of a personal attack on me, it is so much easier to keep my cool and discipline him appropriately.

This was something I had to remind myself of repeatedly yesterday. My three-year-old woke up with one goal in mind: do not listen to a single word mom says for the entire day.

He succeeded.20180817_064021

At 39 weeks pregnant, I did not want to spend my day punishing, disciplining, detaining, and bargaining with my son, but this is what he needed from me. He needs me to mold his heart and his character into the heart and character of a man of God– a man who recognizes and repents of his sinfulness, and rests comfortably in the forgiveness of his Savior.

Teaching him to respect our home is the beginning of how we will teach him to respect others, himself, and someday, his wife.

Making him clean up his mess is the beginning of how we will teach him to correct bigger wrongs in his life, to own up to his more destructive mistakes.

Setting him in timeout while he thinks about what he has done will prepare his heart for when he must sit before the Lord and repent.

20180810_143041Parenting is not about me. My son did not draw on the wall yesterday to make me mad. He did not throw rocks at his brother to emphasize my bad parenting skills. He did not destroy his bedroom to give me even more to do.

My son is a sinner. He did these things because he is a victim of the evils in this world, just as I am. Christ died for for my son’s defiance and refusal to stop arguing with his parents, just as He died for my quick anger, harsh tongue, and love of the world.

For a little while, God has entrusted me with his small heart, and I will not let my selfishness get in the way of this profoundly important task.