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In The Wright Direction

The True Measure of a Mom

From the time I was a little girl playing house with my baby dolls, I’ve dreamed of being a mom.  And not just any mom, I wanted to be the best mom this world had ever seen!

Some 30 odd years later and here I am, blessed to be called “mom” by two of the cutest kiddos you’ve ever seen (really, that’s not just me being biased).  Only problem is, many days I feel far from my goal of being the best mom ever.  In fact, I’m going to share a snippet of my prayer journal entry from yesterday to give you insight on exactly how far from “measuring up” I often feel.  And this was a good day… nothing had happened, so I can’t explain why my quiet time with the Lord went this direction.  Maybe God took this moment to speak to my heart knowing it would be easier for me to grasp while I’m not in the middle of a parenting fail!

“Why do I get so brokenhearted every time my children disobey or make a mistake?  They’re only human so it’s going to happen.  I think it’s mostly out of fear.  I worry their shortcomings are indicators of their future and a reflection on me as a mom.  I don’t like to feel like I’m not in control, especially over situations I consider my responsibility.  Raising children who are obedient and Christ-like is my only job and when they fall short, I feel like a failure. “

Seeing my hurt poured out in writing really hit home.  I’ve been measuring my success as a mom based on my children’s performance instead of trusting God’s performance in their hearts.  Yes, it’s our job as parents to “train them in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6)” and share how God has worked in our lives (Deuteronomy 4:9-10), but only God can convict and call them to Himself.

I remember when my youngest was around 6 years old.  She’d been playing with our bathroom scale and was excited to tell me she was “55 tall.”  The number was accurate but she was using the wrong measuring tool.  God showed me I’ve been doing the same in gauging how I measure up as a mom.

Our children are going to sin…sometimes blatantly.  They are going to make many mistakes just like we do.  They need grace daily just like we do.  They have free will just like we do and we won’t always be there to stop them from doing something they shouldn’t.  We can’t always control our children but we can choose to trust the one who controls everything!

I’ve vowed to quit measuring myself by my children’s mistakes (it’s not fair to them or to me) and start focusing on what will make a real difference in our lives:

  • my obedience to God’s Word
  • trusting Him with their hearts and futures
  • showing patience and extending grace
  • having a good attitude when things don’t go my way
  • sharing God’s love and His Word with them daily
  • praying for them and their relationship with the Lord
  • loving them, their father and others
  • being a Christ-like example

My children and I are going to continue to make mistakes, but our heavenly Father knows exactly how to handle them!

 

Faith to touch Jesus!

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

We don’t know her name.  The woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ robe and was healed had just a brief encounter with Him that day so long ago.  Thankfully, a brief encounter with the Savior is all that’s necessary for a change that will last an eternity.

I’ve been thinking about her for months now, wondering what her life must have been like.  It’s hard to comprehend the shame and despair that must have hung on her each day.  She’d been bleeding for 12 years…12 years of being considered unclean.  Unable to attend celebrations, unable to touch or be touched.  She’d been cast aside and overlooked.  I imagine she tried everything only to find the hope that accompanied each new treatment lead to further despair at their failure.  No one could heal her.

No one could heal her except Jesus!

With a touch of faith and the touch of his robe, she was healed.  Not only was she healed but for the first time in a long time, she was noticed!  Oh, how our hearts long to be noticed…to be truly seen and she was.  The one who’d been cast aside stood before the King of Kings and was commended for her faith!

Faith to touch JesusIt was against the law for her to touch anyone and yet she was healed with a touch!

She’d been called unclean but He washed her white as snow!

She’d been isolated from her family but He called her daughter!

The doctors called her hopeless.  He called her healed!

No, I don’t know her name and yet I pray to be like her.  To have faith bold enough to believe against all reason not to.  It took courage for her to approach Jesus that day. It was illegal for her to even be in the crowd but she refused to let anything stop her from reaching out to the Savior.

What’s stopping you?

Lord, Save Me From My To-Do List!

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!”  “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:38-42

I consider myself a very organized person, but I’m also a very forgetful person so I rely heavily on my to-do list.  I write down absolutely everything and if you’re a little nerdy like I am, you can relate to the pure joy that comes from marking through each completed task.  I love my to-do-list; it’s like  a trusted friend who’s always by my side.  But I’ve realized it is smothering my relationship with the Lord, preventing me from having the closeness with Him I long for.

This world is so demanding of our time.  Work, laundry, errands, running the kids to practice, helping with homework…the list is never ending and exhausting.  There’s always something I feel like I should be doing.

I want to sit at Jesus’ feet like Mary but I’m often my own Martha, reminding myself of all the work that needs to be done!

I find myself saying things like, “I’ll be able to focus better during my time with the Lord if I get the laundry started first,” or “I’ll pray and praise God while I dust the blinds.”  Of course I can praise God while I clean but that is no replacement for time set-aside to be in His presence.  Sadly, I get so caught-up in getting things done that I often neglect my time with God.  I doubt any of us would forfeit a one-on-one date night with our hubbies, yet we so easily forfeit time with our first love.

I feel like I’m being a good steward of my time when I can look back on my day and see so many tasks ticked off the list, but the very best use of my time is time spent with my Savior.

My family may never notice if the blinds go undusted or the laundry is postponed a day, but they will notice the love, patience and peace I have to share after filling-up at the feet of Jesus.  I’ve heard it said that women set the tone of the home.  Think what tone we’d set if we put Jesus at the top of our to-do list!

Hang Onto The “But”

Don’t you just love a good “but?” Every beloved story has one…Snow White ate the poisoned apple, but love’s first kiss was able to wake her from the queen’s spell.  Rocky seemed destined to lose, but at the last second, he stood up and conquered the Russian, Ivan Drago.  It’s unbelievable how one small word can make such a big difference.

Webster’s defines “but” as being “used to introduce something contrasting with what has already been mentioned.”  Quite simply, it means something is about to change.  It means things ain’t over yet!

I’ve been reading through the book of Acts and in God’s perfect timing reached chapter 12 where I got to see just how powerful a “but” can be – especially when God is the author of the story!  King Herod recently had James put to death and when he saw how popular it made him with the Jewish people, he became determined to persecute even more believers.  He arrested Peter with the intention of bringing him to trial after the Passover.  It seemed Peter was doomed to the same fate as James but

The night before the trial, Peter was sleeping chained between two guards (can you imagine the faith required to sleep?) when an angel woke him.  The chains fell off his wrists and he was able to simply follow the angel out of prison and into freedom.  This story gets me fired up every time, but this time, God showed me the importance of what was happening between Peter’s imprisonment and his release.

Acts 12:5 says, “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.”

I’ve been struggling with a situation with one of my children and I am hanging onto that “but” like a life preserver.  That “but” meant Peter’s story wasn’t over.  It means my child’s story isn’t over either. “But” brought us to the part of the story where we get a glimpse of the prince on the white horse, a vision of change on the way.  But it’s what’s on the other side of the “but” that made the difference…”the church was earnestly praying to God for him.”

That is where you and I can claim our hope and peace when we feel imprisoned by circumstances beyond our control.  The same hope and peace that allowed Peter to sleep when his life was on the line is available to each of us as believers when we hit our knees in prayer.

“My child is going through a hard time, but her Mama is earnestly praying to God for her.”

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God: my hope comes from him.”  Psalm 62:5

While Waiting To Be Healed

“But we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  Romans 5:3-5

Those who know me, know I’ve been praying for a physical healing.  But somewhere along the way, I’ve been given something much better…a spiritual healing.

Seven months ago, I was the healthiest of my adult life.  Working out had become a fun and important part of my day so when I injured my back and needed surgery, it felt like someone slammed on the brakes and placed me on the sidelines of my own life.  Since then, my back has healed right on schedule, but the resulting nerve damage continues to keep me from doing some of the things I love.  I don’t have feeling in a large portion of my left foot so running, jumping and skills that require balance are on hold for now.  Nerves take time to heal and that’s frustrating for this impatient girl to accept.

Sometimes spiritual healing takes time as well but often the healing comes through the waiting process itself.  In my case, I didn’t even realize I needed spiritual healing until God got my attention physically.  He used a difficult time to pull me close and show me what I’d so easily overlooked when everything was going my way.  As crazy as it may sound, I’m actually thankful for my back injury and everything that’s come with it.

God hears and answers our prayers but those answers can be hard to recognize if we don’t ask for grace to see through His perspective.  Blessings often come disguised as setbacks instead of opportunities for growth.  I’d spent the weeks leading up to my injury praying for God to make me a tougher Christian, one who doesn’t give up so easily or back down because I’m afraid I won’t measure up.  Overcoming my physical obstacles with God by my side has done just that; I’m now stronger in every way!

Not only am I stronger, I’m more compassionate, I’m getting more patient (against my will) and I trust God more than ever before.  I’ve seen that regardless of what happens in this life, HE is all I need to get through.  He’s provided all the grace, encouragement and assurance I need and I know He always will.

God takes what we would never choose and turns it into what we would never want to do without!

Don’t get me wrong, I still have the occasional pity party.  I still see my limitations each time I’m faced with something I’m not yet able to do, but those limitations look small next to God’s provision and all He’s teaching me.  God is the Great Physician but we must keep in mind, He is far more interested in healing our hearts for eternity than healing our very temporary bodies.

Whatever you’re struggling with, pray for the grace to see through God’s perspective.  Allow Him to heal you spiritually and use what seems like a setback to make you more like Jesus.  I’d love the chance to pray for you…email or message me and I will do just that!

Thanks for taking the time to read what God has been doing in my life!

Come On In!

Welcome to my new website!  While I enjoyed my old site location, it kind of felt like renting and this feels like “home sweet home.”  I could never have done this without my good friends Trey and Christie Dedman.  Christie for encouraging me when I was too chicken to venture out and Trey for building my site and never laughing (at least not out loud) at my enormous lack of techiness.

It’s been a while since I’ve written and I’m both excited and nervous.  Thanks for sticking with me and joining me for the journey!

Also, if you’ve received my posts by email in the past or would like to begin doing so, I need you to enter your email address in the subscribe button to the right.  You can also connect with me on Facebook.

All Other Ground is Sinking Sand

I was having the perfect day.  I’m talking flip flops, windows down, music
up, not a care in the world.  I couldn’t have found anything wrong with life if I tried.  Then, with the ting of an incoming text message, that all changed.

Within seconds of reading the message, I felt icky…shaky really.  If it had been the movies, I’d have cued the
rain and Hallmark Channel music to match my mood.

What could the text have said to change my day so quickly?  Was someone I love hurt?  Did I receive a lifetime ban from Krispy Kreme?  No, a friend said something that
hurt my feelings.  Yep, sounds very elementary school when I see it in writing but there you go.

See, I am a people person.
Even if you are not so loveable, I will still love you because I just
know I will be the one to change you from an Eeyore into a Pooh Bear!  But I especially love MY people, the friends I share life with, and if anything is wrong with them my whole world feels off balance.

This time (finally), I really and truly gave the situation to God.  He helped with the ickiness,
gave me grace goggles to see their perspective and by the next day, my world was in balance again.

But as I explained what happened to my ever-patient husband, my own words convicted me (don’t you love when that happens!).  I told him that friendships mean so much to me that if something is wrong with one of them I feel unsettled and unsure all around.  Immediately, Matthew 7:26 came to mind:  “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Uh oh!  Without meaning to, I had been building my life on a foundation based on my relationships with others instead of on my relationship with God.  No wonder things could feel shaky from just one little text.  The slightest wind and rain of life had sent my house crashing down. God wants us to have friendships but when so much of our joy hinges on anything other than Him, it’s a signal that something is out of balance.

Many of us are standing on foundations that were never intended to steady us; our marriages, motherhood, financial security…not bad things, just not God.  Thankfully, the answer is found in Matthew 7:24-25: “Therefore
everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”

We are only as strong as our foundation and I’m determined to build my house upon THE ROCK!

Keeping God At Arm’s Length

(first posted August 18, 2013)

Our old tabby cat is one of those special pets that show up out of nowhere and claim you.  Personally, I think those tend to be the best pets of all.  It was a rainy day about seven years ago when she wandered onto our porch hungry, pregnant and with a snaggletooth that makes her drool from one side of her mouth.  How could you not love her???  Cracker, as she was so lovingly named by our then 4 year old son who has a knack for naming pets, has been a fixture in our home ever since.

IMG_1594“Fixture” is the perfect word to describe her because unlike our other cat, Cheerio (told you he had a knack for naming), Cracker has simply been a part of our house and nothing more.  She’s shown zero interest in having a real relationship with us.  Yes, she relies on us for basics like food and shelter but anything deeper is outside her comfort zone.  In fact, it would be easy to get frustrated with her lack of interest in us after all we have done for her, but every time I look into that snaggletoothed face, I see a cat who has probably been hurt, rejected and abandoned along the way.  So, I just keep loving her in whatever small doses she will allow in hopes she will one day come around.

Well just this morning, I was sitting on the front porch enjoying a cup of coffee when along came Big Mama Crackalacka  (we like nicknames in this family).  Anyway, I knew not to make any sudden movements so I continued about my business while occasionally watching her from corner of my eye.  Before long, she was weaving in and out of my legs and swishing me with her tail.  I slowly reached down and even though she jumped a little, she let me pet her.  Victory!

Soon, she was soaking up the love and purring…actually purring people!!!  As I watched her finally let down her guard I was a little sad thinking of all the years this dear thing had gone without the love and affection that was there for her all along.  Then it hit me, or actually a “still, small voice” whispered to me that I had been Cracker.  I have been a Christian most of my life but for the majority of it, I had kept God at arm’s length.  Like Cracker, I had been hurt, rejected and disappointed by others.  I let the fear of being let down again keep me from the very One who would never let me down.  What a shame to have missed out on true intimacy with God, true peace, joy and contentment when it was there for me all along.

God gave me a place in His kingdom just as we gave Cracker a place in our home but He has so much more to offer.  He knows our fears and is patiently waiting on the day we finally let down our guard and begin a true relationship with Him.  Please let go.  Please trust God for more than your salvation.  I know it sounds scary but it’s the least risky thing you could ever do and oh so worth it.  Don’t rob yourself of Him any longer!  He’s waiting.


Update:  Although it breaks our hearts to have lost our Big Mama Crackalacka earlier this week, I’m happy to share with you that she really did learn to trust and let us love her.  She went from just being a “fixture” to part of the “mixture” that makes our house a home.  And just like Cracker, I think I’ve learned to trust God a little more too.

P.S. – Cracker passed away peacefully in her favorite sunning spot!

20 Reasons I’m Even More AWESOME In My 30s Than I Was In My 20s!

So, here I am at 38 and I have absolutely no idea how I got here.  It’s like how everyone hates going
to Wal-Mart but at some point, you end up there anyway.  In my twenties, I thought getting older was
to be dreaded, but actually, I think your thirties is when you really start to get the hang of things.  In fact, here’s 20 reasons I am even more awesome now than ever before:

  1. I know who my friends are.  I also know who my acquaintances are and am finally wise enough to know the difference.  For more on how to develop the wright friendships, check out my post, The Beggar’s Cup
  2. I have learned to laugh at myself.  Who cares if I snort when something funny catches me off guard or I make up words thinking they are legit…they should be!
  3. I’m over it!  Troy ditching me in 5th grade for my frienemy was his loss.  Seriously though, once I truly gave God all the hurts I’d accumulated along the way, He healed them and scars don’t seem as bad as wounds.  Where once there was shame, mistrust and fear, there is now forgiveness, understanding and peace.  Remembering events from my past isn’t painful anymore, they are simply the bricks that made me who I am today.
  4. I have kids to help with the housework.  I hate to dust and at 38, I don’t have to!
  5. I take the time to consider criticism from friends and am slowly learning to ignore it from everyone else.
  6. I don’t have to be tan all the time.  Who needs that pressure?
  7. I’m more confident than ever before.  Not the kind of confident that comes because my hair has it going on or I’m struttin’ a new outfit.  The genuine, stick-around kind that can’t be shaken by the enormous zit that’s made it’s debut on my chin (yeah, still getting those at 38.  Like Tina Fey, I have the chin of a teenager!).  I still  have my moments of course, but the more time I spend with the Lord, the more beautiful I feel and the more confidence I display.  It’s the reason I can say…
  8. I finally love my body.  It’s healthy.  It’s happy.  It’s adored by my husband.
  9. I can tell people “no.”  Would you like for me to elaborate?  No, I won’t.
  10. I worry less.  I wouldn’t say I don’t worry at all, but definitely much less.  Turns out, the more time I spend with God, the more I trust Him.  Spending time with God seems to conquer a lot of my problems; wish I’d have realized that in my 20s!
  11. I’ve learned it’s okay to not know what you want to be when you grow up.  I still don’t know.  Is it too late to be a fighter pilot?
  12. I can run errands without any make-up on.  That’s something I would have never done in my twenties.  Has my face gotten better?  Nope. I just figure that if you know me, then you know what I look like when I’m fixed up and if you don’t know me then why should I care what you think?
  13. I care less what others think.
  14. I don’t have to eat like a lady all the time.  In my twenties, I ate cute little salads s-l-o-w-l-y so I wouldn’t finish eating before any guys at the table.  Now, I’m trying to beat my husband to the last hot wing! You do not want to get between me and hot wings!
  15. I talk to myself and no one cares because that’s what old people do.  I’m really good company, by the way!
  16. I’m no longer waiting on…the perfect guy, job, house, kids, etc.  I’m simply enjoying right now.
  17. I accept help from others.  Gone is the girl who didn’t need a man and could do everything on her own.  I know my strengths and weaknesses.  I’ve realized that where I struggle, my husband and friends excel and by accepting their help, I’m getting even more awesome every day.
  18. No one expects me to be cool, so if I am, great and if not, I get a pass.  I love cardigans.  I say “awesome,” like it’s still the 90s.  Want to see my playlist?  I’m not ashamed that I rock out to *NSync and George Michael.  I watch the History channel on purpose and am in bed by 9:30.  That’s how I roll.
  19. I know who I am.  I’m a people-loving, rule-following girl (guess I’ll always consider myself a girl) who loves Jesus.  I think too much but laugh a lot too.  I’m dorky, honest, loyal, and a good friend who loves to talk and adores run-on sentences.
  20. I like who I am.  It took 38 years to be able to say that but I finally can and that’s worth every line and grey hair.

Job 12:12 says, “Is not wisdom found among the aged?  Does not long life bring understanding?”  So, if we are this awesome in our 30s, just imagine how incredible we will be in our 60s!

The one thing I neglected to do as a mom

“Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Genesis 22:12

Being a mom is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.  And being a “good” mom?  Well, that’s as illusive as chasing the end of a rainbow.  It’s the only job where the skill requirements change from moment to moment so you can never master them.  So, what do I do?  What any Type A mom would do…I consult my good mom checklist:

  • provide home-cooked meals (I even wear an apron which I think deserves
    bonus points)
  • help with homework and volunteer at school
  • pray with the kids and teach them about Jesus
  • instill good manners (work in progress)
  • teach them to be a good friend and stand up for others
  • cart them around in the Mom Mobile to baseball, soccer and tumbling
  • always have cookies in the cookie jar
  • pray for them

My goal is to be June Cleaver but cooler.  You know, I’m an expert stain remover but I can also do the Nae Nae.  I thought my list covered all the biggies but this morning I realized it was missing the most important thing of all!

Give my kids to God!
This realization stung a little.  It’s a lesson I should have learned the last time God showed it to me, but I can be a tad bit stubborn (hmmm, wonder if that’s where my kids get it from?  Nah, must be the hubby’s fault).  We adopted our youngest through the foster care system.  It’s a process that often requires long waits of not knowing if you will have the child for another week, month or forever.  During this time with our daughter, God showed me that our oldest was no more “ours” simply because he was born to us than the child we longed to adopt.  Both of their futures were in God’s hands, not ours.  Our children belong to the Lord.  Yes, He’s entrusted us to help raise them with Him, but they are His!

If they belong to Him already, how can we “give them back” to Him?
I think it’s a matter of simply acknowledging before the Lord that they belong to Him. We see this in Genesis 22:1-12 where Abraham is asked to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.  It’s a beautiful foretelling of how God would one day sacrifice His only son to save us but also an example of entrusting everything we have to the Lord’s will, especially our children. By placing the child he’d waited 25 years to hold on the altar, Abraham is giving him back to God.

What happens when you give them back to God?
Honestly, at first it was a little scary.  I like having control and this was completely relinquishing it.  Of course, I never really had control to begin with, but I had fooled myself into the comfort of thinking I did.  After that brief moment of fear came peace!  After all, who’s a better person to care for my kids than the One who made them?
As hard as it is to imagine, God loves them even more than I do.  He wants what’s best for them and can provide
it.  I think the One who controls the seas can control my kids’ futures just fine.  With that peace, also came relief.
Now I know it’s not all on my husband and I to parent, we are partnered with the best Daddy that’s ever been!

Let’s pray together ~

Lord, letting go of my children is scary.  Somehow, all the worry and effort makes me feel like I have control.  Like if I do everything just right, no harm will come to them and they’ll always choose to make right decisions.  I realize that worrying won’t accomplish anything but trusting you will.  I know my children don’t belong to me; they are yours, Father.  Thank you for trusting me to raise them with you.  Though they have always been and always will be yours, I give them back to you just as Abraham did with Isaac.  I trust you with their hearts, their futures and with their very lives.  Thank you for
loving them even more than I do.  I know they are in good hands!

  • Give my kids to God

For more information on how I handled the adoption process, check out my post http://inthewrightdirection.com/2013/10/when-your-daily-bread-isnt-bread-2/

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