“Mommy, I’m Scared.”

A couple days ago, our eldest and I were sitting at the table talking about our fears. I have absolutely no clue why the topic came up (I don’t remember anyone struggling with any particular fears that day), but before I knew it, my oldest was delving into all of his fears.

And as I listened, I heard a theme.

I’m scared when I wake up in the dark and I’m alone

I’m scared when you ask me to go empty the trash cans upstairs by myself

I’m scared when I go down by myself to the basement. 

I’m scared when I don’t know where you are

And though I could have guessed that going down to the dark basement, riding roller coasters, and speaking in front of people probably don’t land on his list of Top 20 Favorite Things To Do, I don’t think I would have known that being alone is one of his biggest fears.

He has never expressed concern about it being dark at night; he’s never had a bad dream that I know of; and he’s never shared any fears about monsters, bad guys, and creepers under the bed. So to be honest, I have never really thought of our son as being a very scared soul.

Anxious? Sure.

Scared? Not so much.

So as I listened to this little soul and as I thought back to the ways I’ve watched him struggle when forced to be alone, it all kinda clicked.

Our son does not like to be alone. 

He wants the presence of others. He craves the companionship of souls. And as I have said before and will say again, “He is the most relational introvert I have ever met.” So why I didn’t put it all together, I don’t know. But I did a few days ago, and now I know.

And as I thought about his fear of being alone and desiring the presence of others, my heart resonated in a sweet and tender way.

See, though I’ve never really been scared of being alone (Until maybe I became a mom and can never seem to even pee alone!), I have recently found myself fearful of taking a path without the presence of God. 

Now before it sounds like I obsessively fear the whole “perfect will of God” vs. the “permissive will of God,” let me explain.

Sure, I believe there are many ways to “displease” God (He is not a fan of sin and doors and roads that lead to sinful living and sinful behaving), but I also believe there are a million and one ways to please God.

I believe God calls us to love Him, love others, and share the good news. Apart from that, I believe there are LOTS and LOTS of ways we can love and honor Him with our lives. In short, I don’t necessarily get hung up on the whole “perfect way to follow Him.” As 1 Corinthians 10:31 states, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

God wants our hearts; He wants our trust; and He wants our obedience. Do I think I could have sung a love song back to Jesus by being a teacher? Sure. Do I think I could sing a love song back to Jesus by being a stay-at-home mom? Absolutely. And do I believe I am currently singing a love song back to Jesus by being a counselor right now? YES!!!

Again, I believe there are many, many ways to live lives that honor Him, and I think we get distracted from His kingdom purposes when we become obsessed with there being “only one right way” to do that. God loves us; He wants to use us; and He can do that in many capacities and in many ways. There is grace, and we can’t thwart His sovereign plans. End of story.

Wow. That was a lengthy disclaimer. 

I’m talking about the angst that comes when following any particular path (you name it) without (acknowledging first) the desire to follow and be in the presence of God.

One of my favorite Scripture passages that the Lord recently brought to mind (again) is a passage found in Exodus 33.

Moses is getting ready to lead the people of Israel. And though he’s not questioning where the Lord is asking him to go, he is questioning the who that is leading him.

Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me…33:12

And the Lord responds, My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 33:14

And the response of Moses just sends holy goosebumps right up my spine.

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 33:15

Moses doesn’t want to go without the presence of God. And every time I read it, I love it more. Why? Because Moses knew that it was the presence of God that would sustain him, no matter the path and no matter the walk.

Moses wanted God, not a path. 

Sure, I want my husband to get a new job. But if the Lord isn’t leading, I don’t want to go. 

Sure, I would be glad to foster again. But if the Lord isn’t leading, I don’t want to go. 

Sure, I will step out of fostering. But if the Lord isn’t leading, I don’t want to go.

Sure, I will step out of a discipleship relationship and into another one. But if the Lord isn’t leading, I don’t want to go. 

Sure, I will move houses and change cities. But if the Lord isn’t leading, I don’t want to go. 

Like our son, I don’t want to go alone. 

I don’t want the reigns…

I don’t want my agenda…

I don’t want my will…

I don’t want my path…

I don’t want “the things”…

I want His presence. 

And though I can be assured He never leaves me, I want to invite Him into each and every decision…seeking His face, asking for His presence to go before, and giving Him both the first and final say on the paths I walk.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

For He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

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The Hard of Hurting

As a parent, it’s hard to watch your children struggle. It’s hard to watch them wade through the heavy, sort through the sad, and grapple with the difficulties of grief. It’s hard to see their tears; it’s heavy to sit with their doubt; and it’s just downright painful to feel the angst of their souls.

It’s hard to walk a road lined with suffering; it’s painful to walk a path of sacrifice; and it aches to walk in a world where hurts still abounds and tears still exist.

Hurt is hard.

And as I’ve watched Caden and Evie navigate this road of loving and letting go, it’s broke my mama-heart in all kinds of gut-wrenching and unexpected ways. And if I’m being honest, I’ve wanted to rescue them from all of it.

I’ve wanted to wave my magic wand and make it all go away. I’ve wanted to lessen it, change it, and even take it away. I want to take those drippy eyes and tender hearts and wrap them in the largest roll of bubble-wrap I can find…refusing to let them feel the burn of heartache and pierce of struggle.

And as I’ve thought about my earthly tendency to rescue my children from the struggle of this planet and the hard of this life, I’ve realized that God has given us a special piece of Him inside of us.  In fact, I would suggest that it’s a God-given, Creator-placed quality that bears the image of His endless love. It’s that part of us that says, “I want your hurt to stop.”

And as I think about that, the Spirit takes my breath away.

Because doesn’t my struggle with my children’s pain mirror the pain of our Heavenly Father?

He didn’t want us to experience hard and hurt; He didn’t intend for us to struggle and weep; He didn’t plan for us to live on a earth when families break, hearts tear, and babies live in a world where they need safe homes.

He didn’t.

And when woman ate of the apple and man broke the command, I can’t help but think that a giant-sized tear fell from the face of their Father.

Children, this wasn’t what I intended. This isn’t what I wanted for you. 

From then on, just like the serpent promised, souls would know of good and evil. And with that evil would come a mixed bag of sadness, suffering, and struggle.

Struggle was never His design.

But because of His great love and because of His deep compassion, our Father saw our struggle and He saw our pain, and He said, “Son, let’s rescue them.”

Friends, if God has placed eternity in our hearts as Ecclesiastes 3:11 states, then I believe He has placed within each and every one of us a desire to rescue the hurting…a longing to stop the pain.

And though that doesn’t remove the pain or change the hard, it gives me a deep sense of thankful gratitude for a Savior that whispers right into the middle of our hurt, “I see you. I love you. And I will come to rescue.”

I can’t take the pain away from my earthly children, and I can’t stop their sadness, but I know the Holy One who can. And as I help them navigate the gravel road, carrying the sacrifice they don’t want to give, I can point them to the RAM IN THE THICKET–the ONE who died for our hard and bled for our hurt.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, [or saying goodbye to foster babies] for the former things have passed away. And the One seated on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Revelation 21:4

Praise be to Jesus! Praise be to our hope of heaven! Praise be to the One who has conquered the struggle and is coming for our victory!

 

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Be a Mama Who Struggles with Jesus

Yesterday was hard.

The kids were irritating, climbing the walls like stir-crazy cats in the middle of Winter. The teething baby was refusing a nap and providing me with too-many opportunities to clean the carpet with Resolve. The To-Do list was greater than the hours, and the attacks of the enemy were coming left and right.

I was fighting discouragement, battling distortions, and resisting a million and one moments when I felt like raising the white flag of DEFEAT.

I was tired; I was drained; and I was overwhelmed.

And just when I didn’t feel like it could get any more frustrating, I received a call from hubby sharing another round of hard and disappointing news.  Truly, it was one of those days where I empathized with Alexander and his “terrible, no-good, very-bad day.”

I was tempted to escape to the couch and retreat to the cupboard but instead, I turned to the treadmill and grabbed my iPhone. As I turned on the machine and scrolled to the first worship sing I could find queued on my phone, I begged the Lord to meet me in the middle of my messy day.

As my feet began to move and the words began to play, these lyrics reverberated both my ears and soul.

There is a truth older than the ages
There is a promise of things yet to come
There is one, born for our salvation 
Jesus
There is a light that overwhelms the darkness
There is a kingdom that forever reigns
There is freedom from the chains that bind us 
Jesus, Jesus
There is a name I call in times of trouble
There is a song that comforts in the night
There is a voice that calms the storm that rages
He is Jesus, Jesus
The last line of each stanza seemed louder than the rest.
Jesus. Jesus, Jesus. He is Jesus. 

And as clear as day, the following thought popped into my weary soul:

Jessica, be a mama who struggles well; be a mama who struggles with JESUS. 

As I thought through this thought, I had a series of other thoughts that came quickly on its heels.

I want to be an Abraham who walks with faith up the hill. 

I want to be a Noah who believes the rains will come. 

I want to be a Joseph who responds with grace in the middle of evil. 

I want to be a Moses who trusts in the desert. 

I want to be a Joshua who confidently moves forward

I want to be a Hosea who loves when it’s hard

I want to be an Ezekiel who speaks the difficult word

I want to be a Daniel who prays through the threats and rests in the fire

I want to be a Paul who bears up under persecution

I want to be a Peter who walks on water. 

The heroes of the faith flooded my mind as quickly as the tread beneath me.

And what did all of these men of faith have in common?

God. God, God. He is God. 
Through the darkness, through the storms, and through the troubles, it was their faith in God that equipped them to face the battles and move forward in obedience. It was their steadfastness in the Lord and their belief in His sovereign hand that gave them them the courage to walk on and lay down.  It was their rest in His power and their trust in His plan that allowed them to pick up their proverbial bootstraps and continue on in persevering love and committed service.
Jesus. Jesus, Jesus. He is Jesus. 
That’s what I want my kids to see; that’s what I want my kids to hear; and that’s what I want my kids to remember.

I don’t want them to remember a strong mama; I want them to remember a dependent soul.
I don’t want them to remember an overwhelmed mama; I want them to remember a trusting soul.
I don’t want them to remember a fearful mama; I want them to remember a faith-believing soul.
I don’t want them to remember an angry mama; I want them to remember a loving soul.
I don’t want them to remember a discouraged mama; I want them to remember a persevering soul.
I don’t want them to remember an anxious mama; I want them to remember a resting soul.
I don’t want them to remember a perfect mama; I want them to remember a praying soul.
I want them to remember that in the middle of mama’s hard and in the midst of mama’s struggles, she claimed (though imperfectly), “Jesus. Jesus, Jesus. He is Jesus!” 
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Fostering: Our Net, Our Tribe, and The Next Step

There was a time in my life when I felt like our lives were filled with more takers than givers, more drainers than fillers. There was a time when we felt like we poured and we gave; we gave and we poured. There was a time when we had to step back, step away, and even step down in various areas of our lives–making room for more reflection, more boundaries, and more opportunities to re-charge. There was a time when we had to do an honest inventory of our capacity, our priorities, and even our relational needs. And to be honest, friends, that time felt like it lasted a LOOOOONNNNNGGGG time. And though there were various contributing factors that shaped that very tiring period of our lives, I can’t say we’re there today.

 

In fact, it hit me (approximately 23 days ago) that I believe the Lord has used this process of fostering to reveal just how big and how wide and how deep the love of our tribe is.

And as I’ve reflected over this reality in recent days, I have been brought to my knees in humble gratitude for the net that lies around, above, and beneath us–a net of people and hearts who have truly supported, sustained, and even caught us when life felt hard and the journey felt heavy.

This net has brought meals; it’s sent gift cards; it’s provided childcare; and it’s provided coffee dates. It’s provided shoulders to cry on, hearts to lean on, and words that have breathed timely truths and kind encouragement. It’s a net that has sent clothes, bought diapers, penned notes, written checks, and delivered unexpected and intentional gifts to all five of us. It’s been a net that’s invited us for meals, taken us out on dates, and sent us packing for overnight get-aways. It’s been a net that has welcomed new, embraced different, and encouraged faithfulness. It’s been a net that has called, texted, e-mailed, prayed, and pursued. It’s been a net that has sent hand-crafted ornaments, bought personalized gifts, and gifted us a family photo shoot. It’s been a net that has asked intentionally and checked in consistently–a net that has supported the weight of our weary and held the pain of our fears. It’s  been a net that has rallied around us, hemmed us in, and gone before us in prayers and petitions. It’s been a net that has allowed space for angry questions, blunt honesty, and panicked break-downs.

This net has been built of our family, our friends, and even those in my Facebook communities. This net has been next door, online, and in the contexts of our church, our work, and our alma mater. This net has been consistent, encouraging, and tender. This net has cheered us on, cried us on, and even drug us on. This net has been our tribe of love, our quilt of consistency, and our home of safety.

This net has been a gift of God’s wild and abundant grace to us–a gift that is undeserved and could never be repaid.

Family and friends (both near and far), we’re grateful for each and every one of you. Because whether you have known it or not, you have been part of creating a grid of woven fibers that have held us, carried us, and probably (at times) rescued us. YOU have been that net; you have been that tribe.

You have loved us so well, so big, and so often in the past 8 months that I have literally struggled to keep up with the thank-you notes–a problem I have never had, nor ever imagined.

Thank you.

Though we expect we will hug and kiss our littlest goodbye, we have no clue what the next month will hold.

But here is what we do know…

  • We have a God who is all-knowing, all-loving, and ever-committed to our good and His glory;
  • We have a net that is strong, supportive, and steadfast; and
  • We are not done fostering.

Though we anticipate taking a small break to grieve and re-group, we are planning (as long as the Lord prepares the way) to open our home and hearts to another little soul who needs a loving home, safe arms, and a net of people who will welcome them, love them, pray for them, and be their tribe.

As I have said before and will say again, there is nothing super-awesome or super-spiritual about us or what we are choosing to do. In fact, it probably sounds like a whole lot of crazy. Trust me, it sounds and feels like a whole lot of crazy to us, too. But if there is one thing the Lord keeps impressing into depths of my sometimes scared soul, it’s the reality that through His strength and only by His grace, we can give up the comfortable and controlled to follow Him down the path of crazy and courageous.

And because we have such a “great cloud of witnesses” (Abraham, Noah, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Ezekiel, Daniel, David, Samuel, Mary, John, Peter, Paul, and a whole net of other believers and fellows saints that have gone before and stand with us today), we can run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

To God be the glory, great things He has done!

 

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“Mommy, God’s Love Promises”

We were sitting at the table last night, doing our nightly devotions, when Evie pops up and adds her 2¢ to the conversation about Adam and Eve and their choice to eat the apple.

“Mommy, they should not eat the apple from the ‘tree of know good and know bad.’ That was a bad choice.”

“You’re right. That was a bad choice.”

“Yeah, but God’s love promises.” 

“It does? What do you mean?”

“It promises love to us for always, so it will never stop even if we make bad choices.”

My mama heart grew 12 sizes big. I absolutely loved the words she strung together to communicate such Gospel-centered Truth.

She’s right; His love truly does promise. And because I wanted that Truth (spoken so beautifully by our 3 year-old) to permeate my heart and mind a little more, I took a stroll through Scripture, noting the promises of God. Because let’s be honest, we’ve got a lot of earthly racket that so often threatens to drown out the promises of His love.

He promises to fight for us. Exodus 14:14

He promises to never leave us. Deuteronomy 31:8

He promises to be with us in the middle of our fears. Joshua 1:9

He promises strength for the weary. Isaiah 40:31

He promises hope for our future. Jeremiah 29:11

He promises provision. Matthew 6:31-33

He promises life eternal. John 3:16

He promises freedom. John 8:36

He promises to work for our good. Romans 8:28

He promises to meet our needs. Philippians 4:19

He promises wisdom for those who seek. James 1:5

He promises forgiveness when we own our sin. 1 John 1:9

God’s love promises. 

And as I made this list, recording the ones that spoke to my soul, I was struck by how many promises I had jotted down.

Did you count them?

There are 12.

Didn’t mean to do that…just happened. That’s exactly 1 promise for each month of the year.

So ya know what? As I enter this New Year, I am making a commitment to dedicate an entire month to focus on each of those 12 promises.

I want to dwell on those promises and linger on those “love promises.” I want to look for ways I see those promises worked out in my life, and I want to record the faithfulness of His love to me…even when I don’t deserve it and certainly can’t earn it. I want to spend more time creating a case for God’s faithfulness in 2018, watching and waiting for the ways He wants to whisper His “love promises” to me and over me.  I want to saturate my mind with more of Him and His Word–making less room for the enemy’s lies to take root, distortions to grow, and for the world to creep in and get cozy in His temple. I want to crowd my mind with His love; I want to inundate my heart with His goodness; and I want to soak my soul in His kindness. This year, I want to be on the lookout for the many ways His love promises.

And in order to keep me accountable to this desire, I am going to commit to writing a blog post (each month), outlining the ways I have seen the handiwork of His love, the faithfulness of His promises.

Friend, could I encourage you to do the same? No, you certainly don’t have to write a blog post each month…but how about taking a stroll through His Word in these last days of 2017, claiming just 12 of His promises? How about making a resolution in 2018 to keep a record of His “love promises.” Whether it be in a journal, on your phone, on a blog, or in your heart…why not take a stab at logging His promises of love (revealed in you, around you, and maybe even through you)? What say you? You in?

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant [promise keeping] and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. Deuteronomy 7:9

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A Hard Fostering Update: “Let It Be to Me…”

Last year, on the very first day of the New Year, I wrote a blog post entitled “2017: Open and Out.”

It was hardly a blog post that was easy to write, and I’m not gonna front, I was anxious about what the Lord would require of me in the coming year if I dare utter (let alone pen the words for others to see) and make a commitment to living the year with my hands “open and out.” I was afraid of what He might ask, anxious of what He might require. To be perfectly fair in representing my scared heart, I felt like a child as I wrote that post.

Countless times and in many moments, I have revisited my words written and committed on January 1, 2017.

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SO many times I extend my open hands, offering the Lord my time, my resources, my gifts, my energy, my hurts, my hard, my relationships, my conflicts, my empty places, my (insert whatever), but then I close them up. I offer my offering, but then when things get hard, or messy, or down-right scary, I curl up my hands and close them off. I grab for control; I close for safety; and I retreat for comfort. My hands that were open start to close and withdraw.

Too many times I stand before the Lord with open and outstretched hands, only to close them and pull them back later.

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So when we got sudden news last week that our littlest soul might be moving (rather soon but not finalized) from our home, I revisited those typed words from the beginning of  the year.

Of course, we always knew this was a possibility. Truly, we have. Sure, we signed up to foster with hopes of adopting but when you foster, you FOSTER! There is no guarantee of anything. You live with a constant awareness that though you love her like she’s yours, you know she’s not. Though you pray over her like she’s yours, you practice “brain surrender,” knowing she’s not. Though you are making family memories, hopefully including her in every single one, you are truly living with your hands and heart…OPEN AND OUT.

But last Friday, I wanted to close those offered hands and recoil those surrendered palms. It didn’t feel good; it didn’t feel fair; and it hurt like crazy.

Rewind to the post from January 1.

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I imagine Noah had moments when he wanted to close his hands when the mockers came and the rains were missing. I imagine Abraham wanted to pull back His hands as the knife hovered above his beloved. I imagine that Moses wanted to close those hands as the complainers grumbled and the wilderness wore on. I imagine that David wanted to pull back his hands as Saul hunted and threw his spears. I imagine that Job wanted to close his hands as his children died and his sores wept. I imagine that Paul wanted to pull back his hands as the chains rubbed and the crowd threatened.

And yet…the faithful kept their hands open and out.

They followed the call, and they faithfully persevered even though the winds blew and the waves rocked.

Open and out, their hands remained; steady and committed, they kept their offering on the altar; trusting and faithful, they looked toward the ONE who created their hands…and they kept them open and out. 

In the garden, with outstretched hands and blood-soaked tears, the Lord Himself submitted to the Father’s will, obeying the call and drinking the cup…the greatest offering that EVER WAS and EVER WILL BE.

At the cross, open and out.

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Ugh. Why did I write those words? Why did I consent and commit to this goal? Why didn’t I choose something where the outcome felt GOOD and GUARANTEED and where the results were more in my control?!?!

But shortly after we heard the news last Friday, the Lord reminded me of a passage from Luke 1.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God…And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…For nothing will be impossible with God.”And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

Once again, in a way that only He can, He WOW’D me with His living Word.

The angel suddenly (out of nowhere) descends upon Mary, and he tells her news that troubles her; she attempts to discern what all of this news means and will mean; she feels afraid; and she even asks the “how question.”

The narrative felt familiar in the deepest parts of my heart.

But then Mary does something that beautifully depicts a life lived with OPEN AND OUT hands.

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

Right there, wherever she was when the angel came, she opens her hands, surrenders the news, and embraces the Word of the Lord. In that moment, Mary makes a choice to submit with a trusting spirit. Not because she has all the answers and not because it feels good or makes sense, but simply because she knows her identity and His.

“…I am the servant of the Lord.” 

In that moment, she voluntarily makes herself a bondslave to the work, word, and will of God. Actively, she is tying and binding herself to the Lord…relinquishing her plans and surrendering her feelings.

OPEN AND OUT. 

I don’t know what tomorrow holds, and I have no clue what 2018 will bring for our littlest, our home, or our family, but here is what I do know:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…For nothing will be impossible with God.”

It is the Lord who will be faithful; it is His power that will overshadow me; and it will be His mighty arm that does the impossible through my extended hands and surrendered heart.

“…let it be to me according to your word.”

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The Small Changes, The Faithful Work

I’d be lying if I said I’m entirely content  with “small change.”

I like big change; I like fast change; and I like change that feels significantly noticeable. And so in turn, I struggle with the day-in, day-out steady and persevering work for the “small changes.” 

“Small change,” if I’m being 100% honest, doesn’t always feel like enough for my impatient, impulsive self. It doesn’t always feel super rewarding, and it certainly pushes me to places where I have to fight the urges to engage in “all-or-nothing” thinking, perfectionism, and battles with my identity. And lately, there’s been a whole lot of face-to-face, heart-to-heart interactions between myself, God, and the “small changes.”

I want to see the fast growth in my attempts to grow an intentional marriage.

I want to see big growth in my attempts to eat balanced and exercise regularly.

I want to see significant growth in my attempts to answer with gentleness.

I want to see leaps and bounds growth in my attempts to weed out the distractions.

I want to see speedy progress in my attempts to grow old friendships and forge new ones.

I want to see noteworthy change in my attempts to shepherd the hearts of our children.

I want to see my son’s unprompted, Spirit-planted goal of raising $5,000 for a school in Uganda to have been accomplished four weeks ago, approximately one week after the idea was initially sprouted.

I will not lie; I want the “big and quick change.” 

And for this easily discouraged, impatient soul,  I struggle with the persevering, grit-your-teeth work involved when cultivating a garden life of growth.

I struggle with the process; I struggle with the wait; and I struggle with the effort of getting my proverbial hands dirty without receiving the big returns and the immediate rewards. I struggle with the commitment, the discipline, and the faithfulness required in the process. Truly, I’m the soul who wants to dump pumpkin seeds in the garden tonight and wake to plump, orange gourds in the morning. I don’t want to till the soil, fertilize the soil, weed the soil, water the soil, or do anything else that would require “babying” nurturing the soil.

I want to plant an idea today and see growth tomorrow. End of story. 

So as the Lord has been working in my heart concerning these areas of nurturing growth, cultivating change, and preparing the soil for long-term growth, He’s also been gracious to give me three examples (in one week) of what happens when we are steady and faithful in the small things, trusting Him to produce the BIG and SIGNIFICANT growth.

Let me quickly share in bullet form.

1. After weeks and weeks of attempting to nurture a soil of kindness, gentleness, and humility in our son, especially in regard to a particular boy at school that is hardly his favorite soul on earth, the following conversation ensues at our dinner table this week.

Me: Let’s go around the table and share one thing we did well today.

Caden: Well, I was kind to _____________ (above mentioned soul). He fell in gym class, and I risked getting tagged because I stopped to ask if he was okay.

Lord have mercy, I about fell slain in the Spirit right outta my dining room chair!

GROWTH. GROWTH. GROWTH. 

2. After several weeks of trying to be faithful in raising money for my son’s “two loaf, five fish idea” to raise $5,000 for a school in Uganda, a friend texts me on a Friday night and informs me that she’s rallied her college basketball team to help raise money for “Caden’s Big Plan.”

Lord have mercy, I about fell slain in the Spirit right outta the passenger seat of my car.

GROWTH. GROWTH. GROWTH. 

3. And after several months of attempting to be persevering in cultivating a spirit of honesty in our middle child, the following situation happened.

Me: Evie, why is your baby sister crying?

Evie: I don’t know.

Me: Is that true?

Evie (bursts into hysterical sobbing): Mommy, I’m so sorry! I lied. I hit her on the head with her toy. I want to tell the truth. I’m sorry, Mommy. I’m sorry!

Lord have mercy, I about fell slain in the Spirit right outta the chair of Chic-fil-A.

GROWTH. GROWTH. GROWTH. 

Does our son consistently put other first and respond with gentleness? No. But is he growing in small and steady ways? Yes!

Have we reached our $5,000 goal? No. But is the Lord steadily providing through our faithful work and the generosity of others? Yes!

Is our daughter always telling the truth, resisting every urge to lie? No. But is the Lord still working a tenderness in her heart toward telling the truth? Yes!

Friends, I get you…cultivation is hard and persevering work. And YET…there is growth to be found when we faithfully nurture, when we consistently cultivate, and when we do the sometimes tedious, monotonous work of preparing the soil for long-term growth.

Brother…sister, I don’t know what you’re trying to grow in and around your life, but I pray you will remain faithful to the labor, diligent in prayer, hopeful in the wait, and trusting in His ability, and in His timing to bring the results through your faithful efforts and your cultivating hands.

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

I [Paul] planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6 

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