Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
We recently went on a long weekend with our children. While the trip was nothing big, it was definitely interesting. My story actually started two weeks before our trip.
My husband and I both drive large, gas-guzzling vehicles because of our farm. I decided we needed something smaller and more economical to drive. After much searching, I bought a small, used SUV. I got a great deal on it because it needed a wheel alignment and two new tires. The day before we planned to leave, my husband asked what we were driving on our trip. Since my old vehicle was in the shop and could not be driven safely, he wanted to take the new car.
Well, I had not gotten the wheels aligned or the new tires. Since we live in a small town, we have to drive about thirty miles to have all this done. We went to have the alignment checked and it checked out fine. The bad tires were the only problem! We then went and got two new tires. This took about six hours including drive time. We got home just in time to pick up my old vehicle from our mechanic. What a day AND we had to get up early the next day for our vacation!
The Help that Wasn’t Helpful
Next up, Google Maps! We were merely going from Oklahoma to Texas. Our first stop was the Texas State Fair. For this, we needed a map. My tech-savvy teenagers said Google Maps would help us with navigating. Apparently, that is not a good idea when you are driving through a large city with lots of loops and overpasses. At one point, it gave me different directions for about thirty seconds solid. I was so confused. I finally told the kids to turn the voice off and read me the directions as I drove. It also tried to route me to take all the turnpikes, which I could not due to the paper tag on the new car. Even though Texas has a reciprocity agreement with Oklahoma for turnpikes, the scanner must read the PikePass as well as the license plate. We finally figured out how to navigate through Dallas/Fort Worth and avoid turnpikes on Google Maps.
Arriving at Our Destination
We got to the fair and went on a quest for “fair food.” We all wanted to try fried butter. Yes, you read that right, fried butter! This is an incredible delicacy that we had seen on television years ago and was only available at the Texas State Fair. It is butter wrapped in a dough, deep fried, then topped with powdered sugar and honey. This was just as good as we thought it would be. We also feasted on fried Oreos and fried cookie dough among other things. Of course, my children do have their limits and did not want to try fried Jello or fried lemonade. Really, that was what they said no to!
We had a long day at the fair and then went to our hotel. My children wanted to stay at a hotel with an indoor pool since it was fall and too cold to swim outside. Being the good mom that I am, I found and paid extra for such a hotel! Did any of them swim? No!
The remainder of our trip was unremarkable, except for our navigation misadventures with Google Maps. I did learn that we did not have to spend a lot of money or go far away to have a fun vacation. We had a good time bonding as a family and eating some unusual foods.
Navigating Our Spiritual Lives
This reminded me that we do not have to spend a lot of money or go anywhere specific to spend time with God. He is our Father and just wants us to spend time with Him. Let’s start the New Year off by spending time with Him! The great thing is we can go straight to God. We don’t have to hassle with “Google Maps Bible Edition” that might loop us round and round in frustration before we ever even get to God! We can pray, we can go straight to the Bible, and we can count on the Holy Spirit to guide us. Navigating each day with God by our side will help make the best of every day!
I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
After less sleep than I would have preferred, one of my one year olds woke up that morning jammie and diaper free with poop smeared all over his crib. My almost three year old spent the day whining and disobeying every direction I gave to her. My other son decided it was interesting to hide my phone in a floor vase in my foyer. It took me over an hour to find it. Fast forward through a busy conference call and countless emails zapped out as fast as possible during the kids’ nap time, but not nearly as many as I had hoped. My to do list for the day was 25 things long and I felt sidelined at every one. By 4pm, I looked around at my disaster of a house and started to wonder how long I could get away with closing the door to the bathroom for one minute to myself. The answer was 10 seconds. Constant somethings. I felt myself getting angry at my “failed day” where I had seemingly accomplished nothing except keeping everyone fed and alive. I have found myself succumbing to my weariness lately and letting it foster a feeling of overwhelming pressure on my chest. Stress.
Honestly, it seems like this past month has been more stressful than usual. There are a few additional things we have added to our plates as a family, but in the midst of a recent stress-filled sleepless night I realized my angst was over things that either…
A) I have no actual control over or
B) weren’t items that required as much focus and energy as I was expelling or
C) were actually just fine.
I took the opportunity at 4am to do some introspection and pray. At first, I’ll be honest I was hoping that as I began to pray I would finally just fall asleep, but the Lord was ready to talk to me and take my burden. He realigned my perspective, showed me what mattered on “my list” and reminded me to focus on Him and not what this world wanted. This probably sounds obvious, but these are daily struggles for me.
There are a lot of things God is leading my family through right now, but some we have taken on ourselves. Discerning the difference can be a challenge but I am reminded of Philippians 1: 9-11 (NIV):
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Additionally, when we begin our day with an eternal perspective and not an earthly one, it is SO.MUCH.BETTER.
Another hard lesson I have to learn time and again is that God will raise up someone to do what He needs done in the world. Sometimes it’s me, oftentimes it is not. I have to tell myself, “Sit down, Pride. Other people have amazing gifts and whatever it is that God has called YOU too is enough and it is so much more than you can dream. What God has for you is GOOD in the full meaning of the word. And you aren’t in this alone.”
Our goal here in this life is about furthering the Kingdom of God, and guess what? The Lord has already planned for us what He wants us to do, we just have to listen and obey. It’s liberating really, not having to come up with all of these grand schemes and do everything on our own. I just put Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) on my chalk board in the bathroom:
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
I just love that verse. We are ALL God’s handiwork and HE has a plan for us all set out if we would just let Him guide each day. Seriously. I’m not saying we shouldn’t work hard, or be busy, or feel a little out of our element sometimes.
Instead, we should capture each thought, each task, each day, as one that God has prepared for us. We should have relief from stress knowing God is in control, not us. He will equip you for what He has called you to do, He will show you what is important in your day and what is not and He alone will bring you joy.
We are called to meet His standards, not the world’s. His aren’t easier standards, but they are different. I can promise you this: we will still have tough days and trials in this world of all kinds, big and small. The difference is that when we adjust our perspective and seek insight and wisdom in the tasks we have set before us, God will guide you to what He has given you to accomplish- and it is good.
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