Remembering the Blessings

Remembering the Blessings

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

Latest posts by Kristin J (see all)

It’s 2:30 PM.

My girls didn’t take a nap. My older one is being a stinker, and the baby just wants to be held. I take a selfie of my frustrated expression so I can pour it all out on social media.

As I’m writing out the text for my post I immediately delete and put down my phone.  A couple of hours later I catch my daughters sweetly looking at each other. I take a picture and post it, reflecting on how the days are long, but the years are short. I do this because I want to remember the blessings of the day more than the frustrations. 

Remembering the Blessings or the Frustrations

I can’t tell you how many days the above scenario plays out.  I’m not saying it’s wrong to share the frustrations of every day life with young children. In fact, sometimes I DO share! Here is the thing though.

Every day will have frustrations- children or not!  Years from now, I want to think of these days with my little girls as sweet. Of course I’ll remember the struggles with potty training, illness, and defiant behavior, but I hope my overall remembrance of these days will be positive.

I want to remember the giggles and snuggles. The pitter patter of small feet hopping across the house and the way she crawls backwards instead of forwards. The funny little words they say and the proud way they sing their songs. Days where we got to play, read, and relax. Days when personality popped. Days we found friendship. Days lessons were learned. Days of togetherness.

The reflection that I want to have in the future begins with the present. I have a say in how it goes! I must ensure that I’m noticing the good, and looking for perspective in moments of difficulty.

Let’s season our social media posts with gratitude. 

Yes, hard things happen, and sometimes we want to share. That’s okay. Let’s keep perspective though. 

Let’s do all we can to create great days so that when we look back, we won’t only remember the struggles of our current phase, but also our blessings.

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

Building Up Your LeadersThe Best Life Praying for our Children We all struggle

Grief: Mercy in the Abyss

Grief: Mercy in the Abyss

Melissa W

Melissa W

Melissa is an Okie with a Texas heart. She is a wife and a mother of three - two boys and a girl (the girl being squished right in the middle). After having taught in the classroom for 8 years, she now happily finds herself as a stay-at-home homeschool mom living life on her little 1 1/2 acre homestead raising chickens, two goats and a small garden. In any spare time, she enjoys leisure reading and also enjoys writing on her blog (chroniclesofakeeper.com). Out of all the little adventures of life - her greatest joy is found in her relationship with God. Walking in His grace, living in His peace and resting in His redemption is something she is very passionate about sharing with others.
Melissa W

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“For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?

But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?

How often–will it be for always?–how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’? The same leg is cut off time after time.”

 

C.S. Lewis

The Barren Land of Grief

The presence of grief is felt thick and its roots are deep in the hidden places of our soul. It is a spiraling entity that immobilizes us and causes us to ache for what once was…or for that which never had been. Grief spirals us into a land barren and unknown.

Where it is lodged secretly, no one knows of its depths. Not even the most intimate of relationships are aware of its overwhelming presence. We find comfort in the pain. We draw strength from the agony, but our light flickers dim as the darkness overtakes every nook and cranny of our grieving being. The comfort and strength gained wanes and becomes our undoing. The grief paralyzes.

“It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.”

Daniel 2:22

We hold tight to our comfortable uncomfortable, as grief has become part of our essence. But He who is light brings out the darkness. Nothing is hidden from His embodiment of knowledge. He sees our grief buried–our secret made known. He sees the darkness that has crept in, the grief that has taken hold. He knows what is in the darkness…and He offers us light.

For the grief-burdened soul, there is hope in the Gospel message.

When brokenness entered that once-perfect garden, it also birthed grief into a once joyful and peaceful place. We often speak of our rescue from sin, of a Savior who died bearing the weight of our iniquities. But do we not also share that the day sin and shame were hurled onto the beaten body of Perfection hanging on a cross, so also was the enormous weight of all that is broken dumped heavily and fully onto the Sacrificial Lamb. Grief, in its complete form, crushed He who was Hope and Joy.

For what?

For the sake of mercy…for the sake of hope and joy complete.

Finding Comfort in Jesus

In knowing that Christ carried our grief fully on the cross, we can now find comfort as He walks through waters dark with us. Knowing that He defeated grief through His death and resurrection, we can now find hope in a rescue from its prison. When our vulnerable bodies can fall onto bruised knee and stretch out shaky hands in surrender, He will meet us in our state of fragility and hold us close. He is the balm that heals our broken heart. His love saturates deep as it fills complete.

“When I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies.”

Sir Thomas Browne

Is that, then, the hope in grief? Are the feelings of emptiness and the bone-deep aches drawing us into His place of mercy? It is then that we find all we lost is recovered that much more in His redemption. Do we dare hope to feel again, laugh again…do we dare hope to live again? Is grace so strong that it restores the soul tattered and torn by grief’s long reign? In the mass of mercies given, there is such an amazing grace.

“When I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies.” - Sir Thomas Brown (3)

A New Perspective

The grace received brings on new perspective. Our grief buried can be His peace resurrected. Letting go is scary and hard. When the pain does not drench into our pores, we feel as if we might have betrayed. But to live is not to forget. Our life for His glory, our sadness for His joy, our emptiness for His fullness–this is when and how He walks in the grief with us. He beckons us close and He breathes life into our soul. We can ache for that which we grieve, because in the aching we can surrender. We surrender our grief to the One who knew the ultimate grief on the cross. So then, we do not abandon grief itself. Instead, we allow it to be made full through His mass of mercies–allow it to draw us deeper into the heart of God.

“The deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering. And out of the deepest waters and the hottest fires have come the deepest things that I know about God.”

 

Elisabeth Elliot

Maintaining Friendships During Motherhood

Maintaining Friendships During Motherhood

Laura P

Laura P

Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.
Laura P

Have you ever noticed how we search for common ground when we’re talking to people?  A mother at the park engages you in a conversation about your child because they too have a daredevil.  An elderly gentleman in the grocery store chuckles as you juggle three children and reminisces about his last visit with his grandchildren.  A neighbor strikes up a conversation about the neighborhood park.  We are comfortable with others when we can find something shared.

Making & Maintaining Friendships

Obviously, shared experiences are important to a friendship. I’d even venture to say that shared experiences are a base for which many friendships are built upon. So why is it that we as mothers sometimes struggle to find or maintain friendships? With approximately 85.4 million other mothers in the United States alone, how could it be that maintaining a good solid friendship is so hard?

I’ll break down some of the obvious answers:

  • You’re constantly chasing after smaller, sometimes faster little people.
  • You had time for a shower sometime in the last 4 days, but not much else.
  • You’re trying to make time for the baby’s checkup, your 6 year old’s request for a game of battleship and the fact that your poor middle child still can’t count to 20 properly.
  • You’re taking up a lot of brain space trying to sort out the essential oil wars and the vaccine debate and so many other qualifications that might label you as a “good” mother.
  • You can’t quite remember why you started this list so you’ll put it on the once organized cork board with your 50 other lists.

It becomes apparent that as mothers we have a lot going on!

How much easier is it to log onto Facebook and take a quick cruise through your news feed to see what everyone is up to than it is to actually send a text or make a call?  I’ll tell you one thing that I see; Facebook doesn’t mind interruptions.  Did the baby have a super explosion that requires a full change of clothing, bed sheets and a bath?  Did you spot your son in the backyard tossing a chicken in the air to see if it could fly?  Is your 4 year old yelling “Can someone come wipe me?!?” at the top of her lungs?  Facebook. Doesn’t. Care.  Facebook will wait while you change the baby and start the laundry.  Facebook will wait while you have a heart to heart about treating God’s creatures with respect.  Facebook will wait while you scour a tiny bottom.

You want to know something else I’ve learned through my long journey of struggling to be a good friend?

A good friend doesn’t care.

A good friend will stay on the line and laugh with you as you change and bathe a poo covered baby.

A good friend will agree to a return call when you need to have a heart to heart.

A good friend won’t mind being set on a counter listening to bathroom noises.

As iron sharpens iron, so one man (1)

The Do’s & Don’ts of Maintaining Friendships

One thing we have to stop doing as mothers is we have to stop telling ourselves that we are too busy to do something that is good for us.

  • We DO have 20 minutes for a quick chat with a friend.  Our kids need to learn patience and respect anyway.
  • We DO have 30 seconds to shoot off a “how is your week going” text to a friend.  Do it while the oatmeal is cooking.
  • We DO have time to grab a coffee sometime in the next two weeks.  It’s only $4 and an hour or two.  Daddy, Grandma or a teen from church can handle the munchkins.

Mommas, we have to quit denying ourselves the friendships that can help strengthen us as women and mothers.

  • We have to quit denying old friends of our time.
  • Log off of Facebook and make that call.
  • Make the baby’s appointment and then send a quick text.
  • If nothing else, write down the people you’re thinking of throughout the day and then send an email or a private Facebook message when you finally get around to it at 11:30 at night.

There are never too many times to let someone know you care.

God knows the longings of our hearts.  It doesn’t matter if you’re the type of person who loves to have a huge group of friends or if you prefer a handful of close friends.  God knows.  He has placed these people in your life for a reason.  He wants you to foster a deep and loving connection with other children of God.

 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Do you find that you struggle to keep up with friends since becoming a mother?

How do you keep up a strong bond with friends during the busy seasons of motherhood?

Am I the Critic or the Worker?

Am I the Critic or the Worker?

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

Latest posts by Kristin J (see all)

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;  who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

 

– Theodore Roosevelt

The hit TV reality show “American Idol” was in its prime during my high school years. Remember those days? I avidly watched this singing competition and my favorite judge was Simon Cowell. I felt sophisticated whenever my thoughts aligned with his, as if I were somehow superior to those on the stage.

In reality, I was just a girl sitting on the couch.

A Critic of More than just a TV Show

If I’m honest with myself, I can see that my critical nature goes beyond my thoughts toward televised talent competitions. I’ve been critical of others and of myself countless times. This critical spirit has kept me from taking leaps of faith, pursing dreams, and even serving others. Meanwhile, others are putting themselves out there, growing, and accomplishing. I greatly regret remarks I’ve said and thoughts I’ve had throughout my life.

As Teddy Roosevelt so eloquently put it, “It is not the critic who counts…” 

When I think about the days Jesus spent on earth walking alongside man, he had plenty of opportunities to be critical. He could have presented himself pompously and rebuked all who came to him. Jesus was perfect; He was God’s son, and our ways were with such error.  He didn’t hold his head high though, did he? Instead, he offered grace upon grace. He saw the ones who were downtrodden and raised them up. Yes, at times he did correct, but he did it out of love, while giving opportunity for repentance and change. As he traveled from place to place serving others, Jesus was willing to dirty his feet. Christ desired his church to be devoted to love and service, not criticism.

A Time for Criticism and a Time for Grace

There will be times for correction. Sometimes we will need to evaluate and address what’s stagnant. Other times will be times to call for change. How is our attitude toward each other through all of this?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Colossians 3:12-14

So now we must ask ourselves, “How are we clothed?” Are our words dressed with complaints? Do our ideals hold back our noble actions, as we wait for perfection? Do we put others down, only seeing their rough spots?

I want to be dressed in the virtues of Christ: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love. These verses remind me to roll up my sleeves and get to work, whether under perfect or imperfect circumstances. As the old song goes, “I want to be a worker for the Lord.”

Kingdom Worker, Not Kingdom Critic

I’m thankful for the gracious words in 1 Peter 4:8: Love covers a multitude of sins. Because this love covers even my own sins, I can put down the self-criticism that often holds me back. None of us will be perfect. But if we dwell on our mistakes, we will never move forward. Kingdom work cannot be done by only a few. God calls all of us to labor. We need each other.

God calls us to be workers, not critics.

I’m so thankful for grace. It’s such a wonderful replacement for criticism. Don’t you agree?

 

 

 

Hearts of Good Soil

Hearts of Good Soil

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

Latest posts by Kristin J (see all)

God’s word is powerful.

It has the power to stir our hearts and change our lives.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:10-11 (emphasis mine)

 

Yes, God has purpose for His words, and His purpose will indeed be met.

I think it no coincidence for the words that follow this declaration….

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown…”  Isaiah 55:12-13

Might that be part of His purpose? Yes, my friends, I think so. In the year 2016, we know even more of God’s word than the people of Isaiah’s time–we’ve seen the Christ! We know the rest of the story. As Christians, we know that God’s word should lead us to joy, peace, and worship. We do not always receive it that way though. Jesus knew this and he gave us a great lesson in Matthew 13 to help us understand the role we play in receiving God’s word.

Hearts of Good Soil Plus Other Types

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, the seed fell among several different situations:

  1. Seed fell on the path, and was eaten up by birds.
  2. Seed fell on rocky places without much soil. These seeds sprouted but had no room to take root with such shallow soil, and s0 were scorched and withered by the sun.
  3. Seed fell among thorns, which choked the plants as they grew.
  4. Seed fell on good soil, and produced a crop even greater than what was sown.

Jesus ended this with the moral of the story being, “He who has ears, let him hear.”

 

Of course, the disciples wanted more explanation. (I’m glad they did because I appreciate the further details Jesus gave them in response!)

  1. Seed on the path — When anyone hears God’s word but does not understand it. The evil one comes and snatches what was sown in his heart.
  2. Seed on the rocky places — The man who hears the word and at first receives it in joy but doesn’t have any root. Then when persecution and hard times come, he quickly falls away.
  3. Seed among the thorns — The man who hears God’s word, but the worries of his life and deceitfulness of wealth choke him and he is unfruitful.
  4. Seed on good soil — The man who hears AND understands God’s word. He is fruitful and produces a crop yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.

 

A Mixture of Soils

As a I look at these different spots for the seed to go, I know there have been times in my life where I’ve been in all of those places. Times when my lack of understanding drew me further away from truth, or caused my devotion to give way when temptation came upon me. There have also been times when I didn’t understand the greater picture of God’s word, and the troubles of life spoke louder than the peaceful and joyful truth. All of that comes from not truly understanding God’s word.

I can not help but think of Isaiah 52:12-13 (above) as I reflect on the seed sown on good soil. When we open our mind and heart to hearing and understanding God’s word we will be full of purpose, joy, and peace. Our lives will be productive in glorifying God, unlike the seed on the rocky places or the seed among the thorns.

The farmer sowed seed for a purpose: to produce a plentiful crop. Only the good soil was able to fulfill that purpose. In the same way, God has an intended purpose for us, but unless our hearts are like the good soil we won’t be able to fulfill it.

 

matt 13

 

What type of soil are you in right now?

Are you prepared to hear and understand all God’s word has to offer you?

Hearing and understanding God’s Word will help us find joy and peace, and when our heart is in the right place, it will also compel us to be fruitful believers.

His Word gives us purpose. 

Oh, how I long to be good soil. I want my life to echo Paul’s cry in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “His grace to me was not without effect.” I want to not just hear God’s word but understand it and live it out.

Father God,

You are so wonderful to us. Thank you for giving us your Word! Help us to have hearts of good soil–to truly hear and understand your Word so that we might fulfill your purpose for us. Help us to find joy and peace in your Word, and may that stir us to worship and to live fruitful lives for your glory!

It’s in the name of Jesus Christ we pray, 

Amen

His word gives us purpose.

Words Matter: The Storeroom of Our Hearts

Words Matter: The Storeroom of Our Hearts

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

Latest posts by Kristin J (see all)

Do you ever find yourself speaking before you think? I’m quite guilty of this habit, and it’s gotten me into trouble many times.

“I tell you that on that day of judgement people will have to account for every careless word they speak.”

 

Matthew 12:36

Our words matter. 

Just before this verse we read: “For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart” (Matthew 12:34b).

Our words are meant to be a reflection of our hearts. How often are we careful to make sure that our words reflect who we are in Christ Jesus? Jesus offers us much wisdom in this message as he lets us in on the secret to speaking what is good. He tells us that a good person produces good from his storeroom of good while an evil person produces evil from his storeroom of evil (verse 35).

What’s in your storeroom? 

If I’m honest, my storeroom can easily be filled with Netflix binges and social media. I’ve noticed that when I’m engrossed in these things I’m usually moody and not as pleasant for my family. I become distracted from my priorities and ineffective for kingdom work. The truth is, though, that God lives in me! Am I allowing my life to show Him to others?

When I fill my mind with scripture, prayer, and uplifting Christian music and books, I feel so much better. When God’s goodness saturates my heart, it spills over into my life. In difficult situations, I have better reactions. I am much more secure in who I am as a child of the Living God. I’m able to see the the people around me and more ready to serve.

If we fill our hearts with God’s goodness, it will spill over into our words and deeds. It’s important to remember that our actions do not hold. saving power. Only the grace of God saves us. How shall we respond to God’s grace? Through our words and deeds, we will show the light of Christ to others.

Our words matter. 

I want to pay better attention to the things I say, making sure that my words are not careless but full of grace and love. I want to make sure they reflect who dwells in me! This means that I need to make sure I’m staying in touch with God. This passage in Matthew has encouraged me to spend time more wisely, to take in less of the bad and more of God’s goodness.

So I ask you again, “What’s in your storeroom?” Is it full of the junk of this world, or the richness God has to offer? Do your words reflect the one who dwells in you?

Prayer over our Hearts

Father God,

You are the maker of our earth and the giver of all that is good. Oh, that we might know you! May we fill our minds and our hearts with your goodness. May we embrace your spirit in us and be fruitful. Help us to shine the light of Christ near and far so that your kingdom might grow for your glory. 

In the name of Jesus, Amen 

 

 

 

 

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