A Bearded Lady on a Dead End Road

untitled-design-7.pngIf you are one of the few remaining people who have yet to see “The Greatest Showman,” this post is not meant to spoil anything for you. I’m continually amazed that God will use just about anything to get our attention, and if my lack of motivation to go out last week for dinner and a movie with my family was any indication, God typically pushes me to come face to face with my junk and just deal with it…even in the dark of a movie theater.

For me, 2018 hasn’t been that fresh start, attack your goals kind of new beginning. What could go wrong, has. Any negative self-talk that could be said, I’ve said it and BELIEVED it about myself. I’m not sure why we allow the same things to have the same negative effect on us. Even when I’ve believed I’ve long ago dealt with hurts, failures and bad habits, they have a way of popping back up. I give the enemy more credit than he deserves, but life for me, if I’m being honest, is a good mixture of taking my eyes off of God, and opening that door wide open for the enemy to push those same, miserable little buttons. I allowed myself to fall into believing I’m alone. While everyone seemed to have a “bestie,” “BFF,” or “tribe” to HOORAY through the holidays with, I felt utterly alone. When you are an introvert like me, you tend to love being alone, savor the quiet, but sometimes I allow myself to be consumed with wondering if I’m ever thought of. In general I find the terms “bestie” and “BFF” to be juvenile out of the mouths of adult women, as if we are back in elementary school staking our claim that our friend is the very best of the best, and oh yeah…they’re MY best of the best and no one else’s. I do, however, sense the value of having your “Go-To” friend, one that is there for you through thick and thin. Heading into 2018, I just believed I’m not the go-to for anyone. Without a doubt, you challenge me to name who will be there for me in a skinny minute, I have a list of five or so that I wouldn’t hesitate to call within miles of me. Tell me they will hop on an airplane, and I’ll give you three more that would come no questions asked! Lies we tell ourselves take on a life of their own within seconds of believing anything about ourselves that is contrary to what God speaks over us. I pretty much camped out on the lie that I am not wanted, thought of, or valued, and you name one person that starts out on the right foot believing the worst about anything! Doesn’t happen!

I headed to a movie theater last week believing the worst about me, and events of the week fueled the belief that I screw up everything I touch and I’m misunderstood in everything I say. I headed to a movie theater last week wishing I could just tape shut my mouth from any chance to miscommunicate. I wanted to hide away and never come out because I believed my attempts to be a leader always end in disaster, that any approach to be a peaceful co-worker were producing opposite results and taken personally instead of professionally, and my management of my home was all things chaotic instead of me producing calm within our walls. All of the things I would tell you I’d believed God believed about me had turned to just wishing I could disappear, and I believed if I did, no one would even care. Thankfully, I headed to a movie theater and remembered that even words sung by a bearded lady can remind me of the truth of who I am.

I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are

Words spoken by others hurt, but none wound more than what we more often speak over ourselves. While actual circumstances can cause us to feel like a nobody, it’s been allowing what I “think” others believe about me to become a loud truth in my ears.

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

Remembering who we are in Christ and who He is shaping us to be can drown out the pain others and even ourselves have inflicted. “Worthless” is the label I gave myself, and often give myself. I grovel to become who God wants me to be because He continually has to redirect me to where I find my worth. Battered and scarred from doing things my way, remembering that anytime I live in my flesh, I am not headed for life at all. Apologizing for the road that gets me there is often where I trip up because it is messy and hard, and I am ashamed of allowing anyone to see me fail along the way. You, too? Picture perfect simply doesn’t exist, contrary to what a social media world is producing. The beauty is actually found in the messy journey.

And I know that I deserve your love
There’s nothing I’m not worthy of
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
This is brave, this is bruised
This is who I’m meant to be, this is me

When I…when you…become aware of a love from God that demands all of our focus, we begin to trade lies for truth. When I still get up and feel worthless, what can I lay down that day that feeds into that, only to pick up what is feeding me truth. It takes me awhile to get it. The bearded woman hid behind a curtain everyday before she believed she had found worth. I, like her, can continue down a dead end road believing I screw up all I touch and say, or I can wake up and focus on what God says about me. A road I walk with Him is a road to life. A road with Him is exactly who I am meant to be!

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6

*Full lyrics found here

My Photograph

1465BDC7-5ACF-4F38-8E34-DB64CEE1828BI got to the end of the day yesterday and realized I really didn’t take one picture, but I also realized that I actually lived in the moments of yesterday rather than my usual worry if I was capturing it all on a camera. My goal this holiday season was to just be present and calm, to really take in living fully in each moment…except, I didn’t do that. I had hardly really lived my life at all until this past weekend, if I’m being honest.
I was supposed to stand up in our Christmas Eve services and speak on hope, but I’d felt everything but hopeful the last few weeks. Truthfully, for the last few months everything felt like it was falling apart. I felt overwhelmed, angry, annoyed, like I was chasing myself in circles and making ZERO progress. I questioned if this life of mine made any difference at all because, to just be blunt, I feel what started off as a desire to live a life that shows a pursuit of God in every moment had turned into begging those around me to put God first. Believing that just living like Jesus was enough to motivate others to live like Him, had turned more into resentment because everywhere I looked it didn’t seem like God mattered at all. I often found myself wondering if I could just not show up in the places I’m expected to be. After all, everywhere I looked is “God, and the things of God, are important to me…until something else better comes along” seems to be a constant battle to any ministry at all. Life had honestly landed a purity of heart as its root, to just being a hard heart, because I feared being let down again. How can a life turn from living out hope to feeling completely hopeless that what you do matters at all?

When life becomes about ME, then what God can do, and will do, turns to a lack of hope. Hope finds itself in moments that don’t make sense. When sickness is present, relationships are broken, bills can’t be paid, and on and on…that’s when hope can make us our break us. We break when we lose hope before we even give it a shot at all. If Jesus is really our hope, then we dig deep and let Him do what only He can do.

This weekend, I was face to face with faking my way through my message on hope, or falling on my face and allowing God to write my story. I’ve been praying that what happens in my life, and in others, would only be explained by God, and I had to actually let Him do that in me at that moment. Was I really without hope? No! What was true is that I was so discouraged by a general lack of commitment around me, I had allowed it to be so personal that I didn’t want any life in ministry at all. However, it is not the truth of what I really know deep down. The truth is that God is the change maker, and the reality is, if I take a moment to look at every single moment around me, He is Hope. He is still working even when I can’t see. I wish that life didn’t feel like a constant begging others to put God first, but I can’t force that for Him to BE that in your life. I must let Him BE that in mine in every moment I live – the good and the really hard.

So, I don’t have a picture of Christmas because I needed to LIVE Christmas. I needed to look for Him around me in the chaos, the laughter, the forgetting to do things on a list, and the smiles on the faces of the family around me. I may wish I had a photo of the day next year when none appear in my social media memories, but this year I need to take the ones He branded on my heart and let that hope be what I breathe in and breathe out. What I knew in the pit of who I was this weekend on the stage in our services is that hope had risen up in me and I took it before I got there that day. Hope will carry me back when hardship comes again. I don’t serve a God of hopelessness. He is my God of all Hope. He can do whatever He wants in any life. His story for me, and for you, is so much better. He deserves to be first, but only you, and only I, can decide He will be.
I read this quote I love again today…”The genealogy of Jesus includes Rahab to show that it doesn’t matter how you start. It matters how you finish.” Finishing this year out in the hope of what He can do that I will never be able to do is a story ONLY He can write!

You Only Know Who You Really Know

IMG_0983.PNGIf we think we really KNOW a person based only on what we see on social media, or whether or not people interact with us on social media, we probably find ourselves pretty disappointed a lot, invisible, assuming people no longer like us, and believing we have no real friends at all. When we assume someone is no longer our friend based on what we perceive on a screen, there is a person on the other side of the screen probably feeling the same way. We cannot be all things to all people, but everyday we store up expectations that people can never live up to, all because we choose to believe the worst case scenario over the best case. I’ve seen people who identify themselves as followers of Christ be the absolute worst at this. A Family that ought to be so for each other that it has the makings of a cheesy Hallmark movie, we are doing a much better job at being against one another. The secret ingredient to any relationship is always LOVE. Would we, if we genuinely love our brother/sister, spread gossip, lie about, believe the worst about, accuse falsely, turn our nose up at, the one we are supposed to love because we’re all part of the same Family?
Want to really know someone? Spend time with them. Not through a screen, but actually sharing life with them. I’ve lived a lot of life not measuring up to the expectations of others. “You don’t call. You don’t write. You don’t visit. You don’t come to everything. You didn’t speak to me. You didn’t like my status…” and on and on. And, I’ve held others under the same expectations, but life is shorter and shorter by the day, and the truth is I will never measure up to how others think I should be, and others will not measure up to what I think either, but living there is lonely. No one shows up to that party. I’m going to the party where there is something that I CAN do, and that is “at least try”. I can try to be the friend I want to have. I can try to love well every chance I get. I can try to speak life in every opportunity. I can do that, not through a screen, but making moments when moments are right in front of me.
I’ve wondered from time to time why friendships on the screen stay there and are no longer friendships I would see in my real life. People come and go even if their names are lit up on my phone/computer screen, but the conversations and real life have ceased. Seasons change, circles become smaller, but valuing people based on what we think we know from a social media post cheapens the season which might bring them right back into our lives. Want to know a person? All you have to do is try.

When You Can’t Win for Losing

Untitled Design (5)One of my most favorite quotes I’ve ever heard was born out of everything that should not make sense, but until you live out the power of words, they will just fall on ears not ready to hear. Live them, and the words suddenly define your life, and add another line to your story.

“It is doubtful that God can bless (use) a man greatly until until He has hurt him deeply.” A.W. Tozer

No one ever sets out to be hurt. Most of my life, I flew so far under the radar that I evaded hurt just by keeping entirely to myself. You’ll find if you stay out of everyone’s way, do what you’re supposed to do, you’ll generally avoid too much trouble. Be invisible and you don’t get in the way of anyone. No one can stay invisible forever, though, and really…we wouldn’t want to stay that way.

These days, on the whole, it seems near to impossible to avoid hurt in a sea of opinions. We’ve become people more known for what we are against than what we are for. Make yourself visible in any way, be it standing out for a worthy job performance, confident in any way, how you dress, posting your opinion, and on and on…well, you’re probably going to be the object of criticism. We’re in a world looking for the wrong, bent on disrespect, and we (me, myself and I) are the smartest people we know. I remember hearing the saying growing up, “We can’t win for losing.” No truer words could capture what it’s like to just try and live these days.

Ever feel like you are living a “headed for failure” life? Can’t do anything right, every turn is a dead end, and your neighbor seems to be headed everywhere BUT the wrong way? I can easily feel that way when my eyes focus on what everyone else “thinks” I ought to be doing. Whether said or unsaid, expectations of others rarely land us in the “winner” lane. In a dog eat dog culture, expectations do not often take on the appearance of others dreaming big dreams for us. Expectations often take on a negative spin, believing the absolute worst in people, rather than the best.

When the expectations others put upon us are greater than the ones they put on themselves, there are no winners.

Having great expectations for ourselves is a great thing. It’s sets a goal before us for which we can aim. We can even set healthy expectations for others, and do so when we parent children, set a tone for school and the workplace, and even as a church. Expectation leads to anticipation of what’s to come. When in the context of the goal being to move forward, expectation is a pretty awesome thing! When expectations are unhealthy, the impossible is demanded out of people that are not perfect, mind-reading skills are required, and the focus on what others aren’t doing is more important than looking in the mirror to realize what we are not doing. Suddenly our environment is defined by things like “You don’t do this right,” or “You walked right past me and didn’t speak,” and a “Your sin is greater than mine” mentality. We would never admit that the last part of that sentence is something we would actually say, but our actions would definitely show that we expect people are so much worse than we are that, of course, their sin is, too. See why we can’t win for losing? Winning will only happen when we shift the expectations we have squarely back on ourselves. Expect as much out of ourselves as we do anyone else, there will be no time to focus on what others should be doing that they are not. Expect as much out of ourselves with a heart and life living for an audience of One, we’ll live lives that expect what He expects, and that is never the worst of anyone or anything. He is for me. He is for you. His only expectation is that we live holy lives, worthy of the calling He has placed on us – to become what He’s created us to be.

Expectations that find their beginning in love will result in lives that can’t lose for winning!

Do you find yourself believing the absolute worst of people? I have, if I’m honest. When trust in others is at stake it’s oddly easier to believe the worst because the hurt may be less. It sets a low bar with low expectation. How much life are we sucking out of those around us when we expect the very worst of them because we’ve bought into the lie that they probably believe the worst of us? It’s a vicious cycle that only ends when someone decides to be a cycle breaker! Is it worth it to stop and think that maybe no one is out to get you at all, that expectations don’t have to take on the appearance of their synonym “assumption”? That’s right. Look it up. Expectation will assume! I’ve written more blogs and articles about the harm of assumption than probably anything because I daily witness the damage it always does. I’ve done it and I’ve been a victim of it, and either way I’ve not one time felt good about myself in any way!

Today, can we expect the best and see where that takes us? Can we make amends with those we’ve unfairly controlled with our lofty expectations? Let’s plant our expectations in a soil that produces fruit and not weeds. Be for your life reflecting His glory. Be a life that is FOR His glory to shine on another. Why would you want to expect anything less?




When You Have What It Takes To Help a Life

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” Psalms 147:3,5
Sometimes life is so suffocating at every turn that we can barely actually live it at all. People hurting people with their hands…with their words. People hurting themselves. Up on the mountaintop one day. Way down in the valley the next. Hope found in the high moments, but all hope lost in the low ones. Approval found in the eyes and heart of another, but lost when they move on to someone else to approve of. Trust soars when every prayer we pray is answered, but deadfalls the second we don’t get the answer we were looking for.
Life is hard. Actually really LIVING it in every turn, in all the ebbs and the flows is even harder. How can we actually live when we struggle to even breathe? When all around us screams “Failure” and “Good for nothing” so loud that suddenly it has become our worth, how can we live when crushed?
Attacked on every side, mind and heart not spared, I believe the lies. They are louder than the voice of the One who spoke my greatest Truth before I was even born. Why believe the lies spewed at me instead? Isn’t He my fortress? My “very present help in times of trouble”? Haven’t I wrapped my arms around you, even, and told you He would be that for you? Why can I not believe it for me? Hurt breeds more hurt and only grows a bitter root when left unattended, when we try to tend to it with anything other than the truth.
The enemy is out for you! He’s out for me. “I will break your heart no matter what it takes” is his aim. He wants to render you without hope. He wants to destroy you and deafen you to the truth of the Truth-whisperer. His tactics are cunning and his message always a lie!
Yet, there IS a power that is without rival, stronger than any lie masked in false truth can ever possess! There IS One without measure, whose love knows no end. He is the Hope giver, the Defender of the broken, the Resident of a heart He will NEVER vacate.
Run to Him, broken one! Find a friend who is LIVING in the truth of who He is! No burden is too big that He cannot bear. No mistake you have made is too horrible for His redemption. There is no road you walk that He wouldn’t carry you all the way.
When we name the name of Christ, we take on the name of “Caregiver,” a life that lives out hope for the heart that is broken. Divisive we are NOT, yet it is we have become. No resemblance of a LIVING and ALIVE Christ can be found, so where would a broken soul go for comfort? Desperate they become, and desperate measures they take. They walk a road screaming danger, but no Samaritan was found to carry them along the way, so broken down on the side of the road they become, and finally the one who had the hope all along comes by…but it is too late.
Broken doesn’t always look like it’s broken. Sometimes a smile will disguise what is hurting inside. How would one know what one does not know? Ask. Listen. Show up when no one else will. Live everyday with heaven or hell on your mind. Love is the most powerful weapon we have against an enemy on the prowl. Love will heal lives we never even knew were wounded. Love will show action when words are never heard. Love will live like Jesus and live out victory…because that is who He is. Victory.
He won for us before we ever even LOST.
It is ours to live out. It is ours to use to be light for those who cannot see in the dark. It is The Church.
Church, be the place where hope is found for the lowliest of lowly. Be the place where LOVE is your banner. Be the place that is so known for what you for, rather than what you are against. When you are known by His love, no door could keep away lives running to find it! Get up everyday and put on your Church clothes. You are the Church everywhere you go, every, single day! It is YOU taking Him with you everywhere you go that is the door that is either open or closed to what could change a life forever! Bind up the heart that is broken so that the One who heals it altogether is truly seen!

When It’s Personal


I stared at the screen in disbelief. Surely this was some sort of junk email that somehow made it’s way into my inbox. The words described someone else. They didn’t sound at all like me, but I looked again, and indeed it had my name and email address on the header. None of what I read was truth, and I certainly didn’t remember the step where the writer asked me if it was true before they wrote it. That part seemed to be completely passed over and now we were in a land of assumption and meanness. I probably will never be quite sure what prompted such things to be said over me and about me, but this wasn’t my first rodeo with being the brunt of someone’s hurt, so I decided to count to ten before I, in turn, said things I could never take back, and remembered that in my darkest, most hurtful, and lonely times, I, too, have said things that pierced to the core of the receiver. I’ve used innocent people as punching bags with my words, so I decided to start working through all of this from that place.  I’ve yet to meet a person that ever loves it when the worst is assumed over them. It never feels very good, but more and more it seems the common thing to do. We question if that text really meant what it sounded like it meant. We assume someone is mad at us if they pass us without speaking. We assume that we didn’t get invited to the party because they just don’t like us. We assume a lot of things because it almost seems easier. Lysa TerKeurst once wrote, “Truth is the only healthy place from which to speak. Assumption is the birthplace of Godless chatter.” What I know as truth that day long ago was that the words gave no semblance of being God-breathed, despite coming from God’s child. What I didn’t anticipate was just how God would use that moment to break me free from a wrong way street I’d been walking down.

The events of that day long ago led me to an even longer awaited breaking point just this past summer. Our family was given a six week sabbatical from the church where we serve, and going in I had some very intentional goals to be purposeful in spending time with family and friends, to pour my heart into making our home a place of rest, and to read as many books and spend as much time in God’s word as possible. My days began to take on the shape of blocked off time reading, and soon it became grabbing every free moment to just be in God’s word, so much so that I found myself craving it. Loving His word is not something I’ve ever taken for granted, but it was the rest my soul had been craving. Just days before our time off started, our church began singing a song called, “Holy Ground” by Passion. Immediately the words caused me to cry. I felt a stirring in me that I didn’t understand. I knew I went into this time somewhat broken by these words long ago spoken over me and about me, that I was not experiencing an abundant life, that to some regard, I just couldn’t trust people or God completely. It was as if I woke up each day on the brink, but on the brink of what? I began to listen to the song everyday, sometimes multiple times. Each time the same lyrics pierced my heart. “Chains fall, fear bow” and “In wonder and surrender we fall down” particularly moved me. I’ve always found music a powerful influence on me, and this was no exception. I was in the mode of read Bible, listen to the song, read books about God, listen to song, repeat, and each time chunks of a wall around my heart were knocked down.

It was during this time that God began to reveal some powerful truths to me. Just as I’ve always struggled to trust people, I became painfully aware that I could trust Him only so far. I felt He was specifically calling me to completely surrender my health to Him – all of the questions I’ve had for 14 years of wondering why I get so sick, of the actual pain I lived in, of being okay to not have a diagnosis, and even to stop caring that when most people look at me they don’t see a sick person because I won’t let people see that part of me completely. He moved me to the wonder and surrender part to fall down and let it go. I believed -REALLY believed- for the first time that He will heal me. I have never had that kind of peace regarding my health. I found that surrender feels good, and that doesn’t make sense to me because it requires letting go of all control. I had to let go of how I had allowed people to affect me, again knowing I can’t control words spoken over me, or thoughts assumed about me. I could only be the best me He was asking me to be. It’s hard to explain the work of God on our lives sometimes because it is so personal and unique to us. I see everyday that it is not always understood, and even when others take notice of the Holy Spirit changing our lives, they are also looking for every reason to call us out when we fall…and we will fall because…flesh!

Since I’ve been back in my everyday, not one week has passed that I haven’t been tempted to question what God spoke to me. I’ve been sick every single week worse than I have in a very long time. I have been tempted to allow people to control how I really see myself. I’ve wanted to put many things above spending time with God. I cannot, however, give in to any of my temptations and doubts without Him and His power. You see, the work of God may manifest itself in specific ways, like in the things He specifically spoke to me regarding my health and trust, but the real work is what He has revealed to me since.

In our church we’ve just concluded a series of month long revival services. I can’t remember a time in my life that I’ve seen God move more in the hearts of men and women. The life change I’ve witnessed can only be explained as GOD. Despite every effort by the enemy to distract, destroy, bring division, and minimize what God can do, I’ve been keenly aware that corporate revival will only be a big deal to you if you have experienced personal revival. Those moments that no one is around and your are on your knees listening more than you are talking to Him. Those days you cling to His word to sustain you and change you. Those hard situations that should never display peace to what the world would call peace, but you know Who is really in control. I’ve lived that. I know that. I do not write these words as a way to brag, but they come from a place of shame that I’ve lived so many more opportunities for revival with me as the center of my world. Back in May I spoke at our church about taking an overwhelmed life and exchanging it for an abundant one. I thank God that He had to speak that to me before I could ever speak it to others. That day seems like a prepping for the work He would do in my heart weeks later. Because I’m human, I know that moments may come that my eyes veer to the left or right of me, my gaze no longer on His face. The grief that brings me feels sickening. I don’t want old Amy. I want to keep tasting the full life.

When revival is personal to you, when you look at your life and the changes are explained as ONLY GOD could do that, it will blow your mind to have your eyes opened to just all He is doing around you in others’ lives. It’s beautiful. Revival could only happen in me because of repentance. It wasn’t because of all of the spiritual activity I filled my days doing. They positioned me in a right posture, but it is what I did with the power of the words I read in the scripture that led me to true repentance and surrender. I confessed my lack of trust in the One whom my soul trusted many years ago as her Savior. I confessed my bitterness and anger that God had not healed my physical body. I confessed the way I had hurt others with my own words because of my own hurt. Walls finally began to fall that had taken years to build. I no longer feel the same. In these days when physical sickness seems to pervade my every thought and take my very strength, it’s an unfamiliar and steadfast peace in the very core of my soul that seems to now scream louder than my doubts ever did when those moments came in the past.

I will carry it, Lord, if it brings people closer to you. I will carry it if it brings you more glory. When I have no control over my health, the words spoken over me by others, the unexpected trials that come my way, I can control my choice everyday to be filled by You.

Wake up everyday, choose Him, allow His word to be the heart changer, and you will see chains fall, fear bow, because at the end of that song that spoke so much truth to me, it’s these words that cover it all and are the only power we will ever need…it’s because

“Jesus changes everything.”

How personal has He become to you? Personal revival always precedes a corporate one. Let Him revive what has become dead in you. A step toward surrender is the best step you will ever take.

Establishing Steps

taking-steps-copyThere were worry marks across her face. I could see her thoughts consuming her, so I asked my youngest daughter, “What’s wrong?”  Not uncommon to hear this time of year within our house, she voiced the worry of a lot of returning students, “I am worried about who my teacher will be…and I also can’t stop worrying that my best friend and I will be separated.” I knew her first worry was pretty standard because all of my children have always had a worry that they would be just the right fit for their teacher, and vice versa, but I knew the second worry was even a bigger deal for her, because last year we had specifically prayed that God would send her a best friend that loved her for who she was, and God more than answered that prayer through this sweet friend in so many ways. And, because I remember being 10, specifically a 10 year old girl, I remembered that our friendships were everything to us at that age, I suggested we’d pray about both things troubling her. I challenged her to pray everyday leading up to the day we would go meet her teacher, and even if God answered differently that we would ask Him to give us peace. Seems reasonable, right?

This week I saw a smile bigger than any I’d ever seen on the face of that 10 year old when she read the name on the paper, the name she had specifically prayed would be her teacher. What a really cool thing to see God answer prayer, no matter how old we are! As fast as I saw that big ole smile, I could see she was ready to see if He had answered her second prayer that she would be in class with her best friend.  After meeting her sweet new teacher, her teacher offered to let her see if she knew any friends on her class roll. As we scanned the list we knew almost immediately that her prayer for her friend to be with her had not been answered like she had hoped. Can I tell you that I would rather my own prayers not be answered like I want, than watch the sheer disappointment that clouded over my sweet girl’s face.  She waited until we got inside her classroom, where no one else was present, to allow her lip to tremble and her eyes to fill with tears, and while she never cried, she voiced her sadness of going through a year of being separated from her friend.

As parents, I often get a truer sense of how God must ache when we hurt, yet He often allows us to hurt so we can know Him to the fullest. My husband said this statement to our staff at church yesterday, “Pain is your friend.” I can attest to many times in my life I have found this to be so true, as walking through it brought me closer to God than had I resisted going through it with Him. As a 43 year old women, I get it. To convey it to your children is often much harder. While their pain is often only scratching the surface of what pain we experience the older we get, it is still a shaping of who they are, and who they become in Christ. I wanted to manipulate the situation that she would not have to go all year without her friend. I wanted to rescue her. I probably could have, but our goal as parents must be to help guide their character and lead them to depend on God for themselves, so we chose to not rescue her. Is it a big deal in the grand scheme of life that she is not with her friend? Probably not, because their friendship doesn’t just exist inside the walls of a school, but is it a big deal to take even these moments of not always getting what we asked for and make them a moment to challenge them that they can still trust God… even when He doesn’t always answer their prayers like they want? It is absolutely a big deal! As I read these words a day after watching her little heart break, I know that the lessons I can allow her to learn with God, and about God, are shaping a woman of God that I hope will change the lives of others one day…

“The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

While I may have a goal to develop character in my children that we are not entitled to anything, the world is rapidly telling them they are entitled to whatever their heart desires. It would be the easy thing to do to hand them whatever they desire on a silver platter, but if our ultimate goal is that they know Christ to the fullest, then we as parents have to determine to foster their trust in Him to establish their steps…to declare He has a plan for their lives. I want each of my girls to understand the reward for trusting God to steer the course of their lives, whether it be in the big or little things of life.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy: at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

What an awesome heritage we give to our children when we show them that a life on the path that God sets before them is ALWAYS leading them more and more into the fullness of joy! Parents, we are living in a day where the days are filled with busyness that is ultimately temporary, but the priorities that are set in place today are the priorities our kids will establish for their tomorrow. Are you placing the path of the Lord as your top priority? Are your children seeing that the things of God and the ministry He’s given each of us to share the Gospel are the MOST important things, or are you pushing other things to the top of your life that are not leading to the fullness of joy? Our children are watching for us to lead them. Before they were ever born, you were already a family…just you and your husband, or even you as a single parent. Your children were born into your lives, and not the other way around. God has given you responsibility to guide them, to teach them how to love, to trust God all the days of their lives. They don’t learn this if you are not leading them to learn to hear God’s voice in every single thing they face in life. New seasons always bring new opportunity! Let this new season of a new school year bring you greater opportunity to show Jesus to your children unlike ever before!