Dreams are a beautiful thing. Without them life would be a bit stagnant, don't you think?
It's important to challenge ourselves to work toward something – a financial goal, a fitness goal, a household project – and then to dream about how reaching that goal will make our life better.
But what if your attention gets focused on that dream and you completely lose sight of the present?
This blog earns a little bit of money for our family. What a blessing to be able to sit down and write the things that are on my heart and then to see trickles of money coming in because of it!
At the beginning of last year, I set what I thought was a completely laughable goal for what I hoped this blog would earn for our family for the year. But God has ways of surprising us, and the goal was met above and beyond.
Knowing how much had come in without my even trying, I set some much bigger goals for this year and tried to be a little bit more intentional about reaching them.
We have family dreams, and we're using the income from this blog to hopefully reach them one day. We dream of owning a larger house where we can all fit inside without tripping over each other and getting irritated because of it. We dream of owning property where the kids can run and play freely without fear of being run over by a car.
Knowing the potential income there is in blogging, the fulfillment of those dreams seems quite near, especially if I keep working on the plans I've laid.
But I keep coming back to this thought:
I don't want to sacrifice the present for a future dream.
I don't want to be so full of starry-eyed dreams of spacious houses and country property that I ignore the very thing that would make that house and property so precious – the people living there.
The thing that makes dreams so special is the people that are in them.
I don't want to use up all my days working toward a future dream when the present is passing me by each hour.
Each hour that passes while I create products and answer emails and crunch numbers is an hour that my children have grown older. It's an hour that I missed playing catch and reading books and taking walks.
It's an hour that I can never retrieve.
I don't think anyone should abandon their dreams and stop reaching for goals. If we reach our family goals, it will actually enable us to spend more time together as a family. There is even the possibility that my husband could quit his job and we could work together on homeschooling and running this website.
But that's in the future. And in the meantime I can't bring myself to give up precious hours with my children just to reach that goal.
So I'll keep reaching for that goal – one teeny, tiny, sparest-of-spare moments at a time. But I won't allow it to take over my days or preoccupy my thoughts.
I don't know what your dream is – maybe it's getting a work-at-home business off the ground, growing your blog a little bigger, writing a book – but is it worth the sacrifice of the present?
Will you wish someday that you hadn't made your dreams so much of a priority that you sacrificed the present?
Will you realize that you had been present physically but your mind was far away as you made goals and plans?
Why don't you change course before it's too late?
Don't find yourself wishing you could go back and relive the hours you wasted.
You may never live to see the future, so what is the sense in living there?
Dear Christian teens,
Even though I don't yet have teens of my own, I have the privilege of working with some of you at church and I love you as if you were my own.
I came across an article today that really bothered me. I realized just how loudly unbiblical messages are being shouted at you, and I want to counteract that with the truth.
A mother was writing about why she keeps a giant box of condoms available to her teenagers. She thinks it's sweet and all when a teenager makes a promise that he will keep himself (or herself) pure, but she knows what's really going to happen. She'd rather her teens be “protected” when they inevitably give in to the lust burning within them, so she gives her teens and their friends condoms as a “back-up plan” for when they just can't keep that purity vow.
And what bothered me all the more was to see mother after mother commenting in hearty agreement. “That's right! I'd rather my child wait until they're married, but since I know they won't I want to make sure they're protected!”
Don't listen to that garbage, dear teenager.
The world says you're not capable of having any self-control. The world says that when you make a promise there's no way you'll keep it.
But God says differently.
Young people, you can do right!
The world says it's impossible to keep yourself pure – that you might as well just give up before you start.
The world says you need to be taught “safe sex” because abstinence is impossible.
Don't listen to those lies! Listen to God. Study his Word and then choose to obey it through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I'm not sure of the exact moment I began feel the weight of being overwhelmed lifting – it has been such a gradual process – but I know there are some very definitive milestones that have made a noticeable difference in my emotional state.
The first was when I began to meditate frequently on this quote by Jim Elliot, the missionary who was martyred in the jungles of Ecuador:
“Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”
Instead I needed to learn to live in the moment.
The key to living in the moment was to be sure what I was doing in that moment was the will of God.
At the end of the day, there may be a lot of good things left undone, but I can mentally release myself from the guilt of unaccomplished tasks knowing that I've put my heart and soul into every circumstance that God had planned for me that day.
And I'm learning to not even live the moments that are not God's will for me.
Although the quote is not from Scripture, God has been using it to direct my mind to Scripture many times throughout the day. If I am truly going to live in the will of God, I must be in tune with his desires for me moment by moment.
It has brought me:
1. An increased awareness of God's presence and direction for even the smallest decisions
2. Better awareness of how I am using my time
The result of both of those has been to find more peace in my home.
Awareness of God's presence gives peace to my soul.
Better time management increases the atmosphere of peace in my home.
The house stays more tidy.
I am more mentally present and in tune to my husband's and children's needs.
I am more aware of my own needs, including simple things like eating enough food at meals.
All of this because of a simple quote, but I believe the Spirit's calling it to my remembrance was a direct answer to prayer in helping me begin my journey to rest.
I hope as you meditate on all of its implications, it will be as much of a help to you as it has been to me.
October is a big month in the blog world. Many bloggers participate in a 31 day writing challenge where they will blog for 31 days straight about one topic.
I've done it before and it's quite profitable from a blogging perspective – you get a lot of content added to your blog, you can use that content as the core for a new book, you get a lot of new followers who are interested in your topic, etc.
This year, my body, my mind, and my spirit are in dire need of rest. Obligating myself to sit down and write every day is not what I need in this season. Don't get me wrong – I love to write and it refreshes me. But when other responsibilities are pressing, my body does not need the pressure of being forced to get up early or stay up late to fit writing into my schedule too.
The demands of life press in from all sides whether you're a blogger or not.
Perhaps your brain feels like it might explode any second from all the things you're trying to keep straight.
Perhaps your house is hopelessly messy and you just can't get back on top of things no matter how hard you try.
Perhaps circumstances beyond your control are leaving you feeling worried and stressed.
When Jesus' disciples were insanely busy, hardly able to keep their heads above water with all the demands on their time, he called them to come apart and rest awhile.
I'm setting aside the entire month of October as a chance to simply rest, and I'd love to have you join me.
The computer will stay off most of the time. I'll be actively looking for ways to simplify life at home. I'll be going to bed earlier. I'll be spending more time in my pj's with my nose in a good book.
For the most part, I won't be blogging, but…I do have a few things planned. I have a few posts for sponsors that I already had on the schedule. I'll also write when I have free moments and I feel like writing is what would be most refreshing for me at the moment.
Although I will will be concentrating on resting rather than writing, I still want to share some ideas with you on how to find rest.
Resting is about so much more than going to bed earlier (although that's important too!)
It's about decluttering our minds from the extra baggage bumping around that won't allow us a moment of silence inside our brain.
It's about defeating the hopelessness that we feel when the demands of life seem impossible to meet.
It's about learning to think the right things and do the right things so that we can kick the constant feeling of being overwhelmed out of our lives.
I've been studying a lot about the Biblical concept of rest and I am bursting with things to share with you! Therefore, as I feel it is appropriate for my own life, I will be trickling out some posts for you as well as quite a few goodies that I think you're going to love.
If you answered yes to any of the above, consider this your invitation to join me for a season of rest.
If you already subscribe to my regular email list, you'll want to go ahead and sign up separately here because I'll be sending out emails specifically for the season of rest.
I hope you'll join me!
My college friends and I all sat in the van outside of the restaurant, chowing down on our fast food.
“I'll be right back,” the leader of our group said as he jumped out of the van and strode back inside the restaurant.
When he returned with a big smile on his face he told us what he'd been doing.
“I just had to go back in and tell them what a good job they did serving us and how good the food tasted,” he said. “The manager was pretty shocked since most people that come marching back inside asking to speak to a manager aren't saying anything nice.”
I don't know what to say so I just won't say anything,” I thought to myself.
Later I felt terrible when I overheard her telling someone about a major trial she was going through.
When she needed encouragement the most I had walked right on by without even saying a word to her.
What a contrast between the first story and the second! In the first, a few unexpected words of encouragement brightened someone's day. In the second, someone who desperately needed a word of encouragement didn't receive it.
When we read verses about the tongue or hear messages preached about our speech we usually think about the danger that comes from speaking too much. The more we say the more opportunities we have to get ourselves into trouble with our words. That is definitely true and entirely Biblical.
But I think those of us who tend to be more on the quiet side think we're automatically off the hook. Because it's safer to use fewer words, we tend to let ourselves glide through life not saying anything ever – including the times when there is something that really should be said.
As I opened up the Bible and searched for Scriptures about the times when we should open our mouths, I was not surprised to find that there must be a healthy balance between the two extremes (speaking too much and speaking too little.) Balance is something that scripture teaches in every area of life.
So for those of us who are a little on the shy side and prone to use that as an excuse not to speak up, here are some verses that push us a little closer to the balance that we need:
Proverbs 15:23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!
Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Isaiah 50:4 The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary:
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Hebrews 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
It's clear that Scripture not only encourages, but outright commands the use of our tongues to speak refreshing and edifying words to others.
It's not enough to tell ourselves we should use those types of words if we're going to speak; we must make the choice to speak them.
We never know what type of discouragement another person is facing.
The fast food manager might have a child in the hospital and an encouraging word might brighten her day more than you'll ever know.
The teenager you pass might be listening to the lies from bullies at school that he is “no good”, and without your life-giving words he will continue to believe them.
Your pastor might be discouraged because everyone wants to put their two cents in about what he could do better but no one bothers to thank him for pouring into their lives day after day.
I understand that sometimes it's hard for an introvert to know what to say, but something is better than nothing as long as you're trying. Even something as simple as a genuine “How are you?” is better than passing someone by without a word. They don't have any idea that inside you're thinking “I wonder if she's doing okay. I sure would like to be friends. Her dress is beautiful. I wish I could stop and chat; I just don't know what to say.” All they know is that you didn't care about them enough to speak a single word.
We may not be tearing others down with our words, but it's possible we may be tearing them down with our silence. <<–Click to tweet that.
When someone is already discouraged, lonely, depressed, sad, or hopeless and we do not speak the words that will lift them from their despair, we are guilty of leaving them there in that pit.
So let's push ourselves outside of our comfort zone a bit, shall we? Before we point fingers at those who struggle with opening their mouth a little too much, let's overcome our own struggle with leaving ours closed too often.
I'm not promising that it will be easy, but I'm encouraging you to be obedient anyway while remembering that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)
In light of everything that has come out recently regarding Planned Parenthood, I wanted to share some practical ways to stand up against abortion. We can get upset about the murder of innocent babies, or we can actually do something!
I'm not pretending I'm the expert, because I'm not. I'm sure many of you have even more and better ideas. Please feel free to share those with me! But I want to at least get our wheels turning about how we can stand up against abortion and fight for the lives of the 2,000 babies who will be
aborted heartlessly murdered today.
1. Support a pregnancy resource center
Pregnancy resource centers focus on providing expectant mothers with hope and help, no matter their situation. If an expectant mother finds herself in need, she can turn to a pregnancy resource center for counseling, baby supplies, adoption referrals, and support.
Your donations help to fund administrative costs as well as provide ultrasounds and baby supplies.
If you do not know of a center to which you can donate, I can personally recommend this one. I know the owner personally and can assure you that the women who visit are receiving Biblical help from compassionate counselors who truly care. Many who have considered abortion have chosen LIFE for their baby after visiting this center!
2. Volunteer at a pregnancy resource center
You can also personally volunteer to help at a pregnancy center. You can counsel women (check to see if free training is provided at your local center), help organize baby supplies, do paperwork, or just clean the office and take out the trash! You don't need any special skills to be involved.
3. Personally aid needy mothers
Do you know an expectant mother who is struggling financially? Instead of leaving her in despair, wondering how she will provide for her child, show her that Jesus cares about her and her child by giving her groceries or diapers. Be involved in her life. Don't just go your way and say “I hope things work out for you.” Put some action behind your words! (James 2:15-16)
4. Contact your representatives
Your congressmen represent you! They need to know how you feel about issues. They need to know that they will not have your vote if they do not represent the will of the people – then they need to know what the will of the people is!
5. Speak out
Do not be silent about what is going on behind the closed doors of Planned Parenthood. Babies are being murdered in cold blood. No matter what pretty terms they try to give it, it is baby murder plain and simple. Many of the women who walk in the doors of Planned Parenthood are there simply because they need help. They are looking for hope and a way out of a tight situation. And they are given just that. Their hope comes in the form of prettified terminology like “it's just a blob of tissue” as well as outright lies like “It will not hurt you emotionally.”
We must speak loudly enough to expose the lies so that every woman in America knows exactly what is really happening when she is told that abortion is the best option for her situation. She needs to know that the choice to terminate her pregnancy is a choice to brutally and painfully murder a baby – not simply to remove some unwanted “tissue”.
6. Quit supporting third parties who donate to Planned Parenthood.
Not only do we not want our tax dollars going to fund the murder of babies; we don't want any of our dollars funding the murder of babies.
When you shop at certain stores, pump gas at certain gas stations, and even pay your cell phone bill, you are helping to put money into the pockets of Planned Parenthood. Don't stand up and say you hate the fact that babies are being murdered every day until you put your money where your mouth is. It's time to find some different places to shop. Here's the full list of companies who donate to PP.
When it comes down to it, we can do everything in our human power to stop the evil that is taking place in our country, but the results are ultimately up to God.
Are we beseeching him on behalf of helpless unborn babies? Are we humbling ourselves and asking him daily to reveal our own sin so that he may heal our land? (II Chronicles 7:14)
8. Share the Gospel
No matter how much money you donate to pro-life organizations, no matter how many phone calls you make to your senators, no matter how loudly you speak out against abortion, the only real cure for the evil in our land is the Gospel.
When hearts are changed through the power of God's Word, culture is changed by those people who want to follow God's design.
The woman who lives an immoral lifestyle and then disposes of the “unwanted results” needs the Gospel. The woman who was raped needs the Gospel. The family living in poverty with the burden of an unexpected pregnancy needs the Gospel. The employees at Planned Parenthood need the Gospel. Every member of Congress and the President of the United States need the Gospel.
And the Gospel goes out to one person at a time. It goes out to your neighbor. It goes out to the cashier at the grocery store. It goes out to the waitress at Waffle House. But it only goes out if you give it out. (Romans 10:14)
9. Quit taking birth control pills
Uh oh. Did I just say that out loud?
It is not my desire to meddle in anyone's personal business, but if you believe life begins at conception, and if you are against ending that life, you need to read this. If you didn't know, I'm sorry to be the one to break it to you. I really, really am.
Because he said it much better than I could, I'm going to quote from an article by Randy Alcorn. I have, however, done my own research on this and confirmed it all to be true. I've been quiet about it for too long, and it's time for me to be brave enough to open my mouth about this.
“In summary, according to multiple references throughout The Physician’s Desk Reference, which articulate the research findings of all the birth control pill manufacturers, there are not one but three mechanisms of birth control pills:
1. inhibiting ovulation (the primary mechanism),
2. thickening the cervical mucus, thereby making it more difficult for sperm to travel to the egg, and
3. thinning and shriveling the lining of the uterus to the point that it is unable or less able to facilitate the implantation of the newly fertilized egg.
The first two mechanisms are contraceptive. The third is abortive.” (Emphasis mine.)
To my knowledge there is not a single brand of birth control pill that does not operate in this manner – first to prevent pregnancy, but second to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.
Folks, a fertilized egg is a human life that God created. By preventing it from being implanted into the wall of the mother's uterus, you are cutting off its life source, therefore killing it.
There is no way to sugar coat the reality of what is happening, even though your doctor and even most of the package inserts do not want to explain it this way.
But now you know. So what will you do about it?
10. Quit believing the lie that children are inconvenient
I thought this article on how the abortion culture affects motherhood was thought-provoking. Many moms have bought the lie that children are inconvenient and a burden. God calls children a blessing and a reward!
Let's stay in God's Word so that we can view children the way that God sees them instead of viewing everything they do through the eyes of our selfish flesh!