When Chaos Collides with God’s Goodness – a Guest Post

I hope you’re in the mood for a treat today! I’m pleased to feature my blogging friend and critique partner, Lyneta Smith who writes and speaks about viewing ourselves as God sees us–his priceless masterpieces. Lean in for some deep wisdom from this amazing woman of God:

I’ve heard people say they can’t believe in a racist, misogynistic god who lets tornados, hurricanes and earthquakes destroy entire cities. Who lets so many in the world go hungry and without clean water. Who lets so many suffer. An uncaring god who turns an unsympathetic eye to mass shootings, lethal diseases, and endemic poverty.

Copyright: homeros / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: homeros / 123RF Stock Photo

I have to agree with them. I couldn’t (and don’t) believe in a god like that either. I believe that God is good, and that He wants nothing but good things for His creation.

But there was a time not long ago when I had forgotten all about the goodness of God. My emotional pain had wrapped me so tight that I was suffocating. There were times I literally couldn’t breathe it hurt so much, and yet the world seemed to go on like everything was fine.

I trod through my days like an oxen through cement. It seemed like I was always in danger of sinking.

Have you ever been there, friend? Like the fog won’t lift and you can barely see six inches in front of your face?

It’s so easy to forget that a loving, powerful God knit you together in the womb and made you one of a kind. Who’s thinking about their irreplaceable purpose in the world when they’re just trying to survive?

Copyright: wiratgasem / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: wiratgasem / 123RF Stock Photo

Overwhelming emotions happen. It’s part of the human experience, but not a character flaw. Think of so many heroes of the faith—Moses, Elijah, and King David, to name a few—who broke down and despaired of living.

But where we run into trouble is attributing negative human character flaws (like racism and apathy to suffering) to a God who purposefully designed each of us with our specific DNA, including race, gender, and ethnicity. He chose our parents, where we’d be born, and all of our physical characteristics.

Not only did He specifically designate every detail from eye color to IQ, but He made us in His own image. How could He not love something that He fashioned after Himself? Think of the best set of parents you know and how proud they are of their children, and then multiply how good they are to their kids by infinity. That’s a glimpse of how good God is to us, His created beings fashioned after Himself.

Why would God be indifferent or evil to those He created specifically and individually? To those He made to be just like Him?

Racism and apathy don’t come from our Heavenly Father. He never modeled those for us. Those negative character flaws come from our human tendency to selfishness—a key element in every sin.

Copyright: rmarmion / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: rmarmion / 123RF Stock Photo

Other injustices, like neglect, abuse, and abandonment don’t come from God, either. The pain resulting from other people doing those things is sometimes so great that we tend to lump God in there too, when He’s just as grieved about their decisions as we are, or more so. God, who gave us free will (another aspect of His image), allows us to make choices that impact others, and others have the same ability to negatively impact us, even in catastrophic ways.

Thinking otherwise is merely an attempt to recreate God in our own image. It’s He who created us in His image and our call as disciples is to become more and more like Jesus, walking in His steps.

King David wrote a Psalm that I quoted to myself many times through the dark year of 2014.

I remain confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;

be strong and take heart

and wait for the Lord.

Psalm 27:13-14

Copyright: udra / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: udra / 123RF Stock Photo

I clung to this verse like a tiny spark of light in the darkest cavern. Even now it’s a reminder to me that I can trust the goodness of God, even when there’s chaos all around me and I can’t see through the fog.

Those times of trial give us an opportunity to process the goodness of God in the depths of our hearts, rather than just giving it lip service when things go our way. When we have to actually search for it, it’s then that the difference it makes in our lives counts.

It’s like an upward cycle—the more we know who He is, the better we understand His goodness. The better we understand His goodness, the more we want to extend goodness in our own lives. The more we want to extend goodness to those around us, the less suffering there is in the world.

Simply put, the existence of apathy, racism, hatred, and the like in the world is simply because of one basic thing: we aren’t yet enough like our Maker. We’re created in His image, but like the child who mimics her parent, we can choose whether to do so, or rebel against everything He stands for.

Copyright: oksun70 / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: oksun70 / 123RF Stock Photo

When we reflect the goodness of God by digging wells in impoverished nations, doing tornado relief work, feeding hungry kids in our own school districts, and supporting orphan care in third-world countries, that’s when it’s most evident to those caught up in suffering. It’s in the note of encouragement we send to our depressed friend and the meal we take to someone recovering from surgery. It doesn’t have to be magnanimous. It only has to meet a need.

Is there someone in your life who needs to see the goodness of God again? Or perhaps someone across the world you haven’t met but feel a burden to show them? I challenge you to start the Advent season by pointing the light we’ve been given toward one dark place this week. If you do, please comment below so others will be inspired to do the same.

Header Image: Copyright: think4photop / 123RF Stock Photo

Book Giveaway: 66 Ways God Loves You by Jennifer Rothschild

Perhaps you’ve heard it said that the Bible is God’s love letter to us. In Jennifer Rothschild’s book, 66 Ways God Loves You, we are given 66 summaries of God’s individual love messages in each book. That’s right! Every book—even Lamentations.

Take the book of Ezekiel, for example. At a time when most thought the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem meant that God had abandoned his people, Ezekiel’s message is one of hope; God’s promise to rebuild His chosen nation of Israel. Jennifer’s writings help personalize that hope. She encourages us to apply Ezekiel’s message to our own personal valley of dry bones. She writes:

“Sometimes we look at the landscape of our lives and see only a valley of dry bones. We look at dead dreams, lifeless hopes, and ruined relationships, and with Ezekiel, we wonder, Can these bones live? Can all this really come back to life? Can hope be restored? Can God breathe life into these dry bones? We all face times when everything seems dry and dead. We can only summon a weak, “Lord, You alone know the answer.”

God’s promise to us today is, ‘I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD ( Ezekiel 37:6).’

Open your spiritual eyes today to see that God, and God alone, can turn your valley of dry bones into a wellspring of hope. Then ask Him to breathe new life into you.”

I don’t know about you, but that makes me want to stop, reflect, and invite God to breathe life into some dead zones of my life. Jennifer has a way of doing just that chapter, after chapter in this book.

Jennifer’s ability to draw out truth and help readers apply it sets this book apart from other gift books. Through poignant but never gushy language, she engages her readers to not only read God’s love letters, but to put them into practice in specific areas of our lives.

Speaking of the practical, the format of this 6”x 7” book is both lovely and practical. A perfect gift book, with short two-paged chapters, the ideas are deep enough to take away life changing truth, but simple enough that anyone can learn from them.

66w-4Each chapter has a short title summary of God’s message of love:

  • In Leviticus, God Grants Me Access to Him
  • In Proverbs, God Offers Me Wisdom, More Precious Than Rubies
  • In Zephaniah, The Mighty God Sings Over Me with Great Joy
  • In 1 Peter, God Gives me Victory over Suffering

I’d recommend 66 Ways as a wonderful teaching tool for Bible study leaders, Sunday school teachers, and small group leaders who’d like a fresh perspective on God’s cover-to-cover message of love.

Thank you for reading my book review! To enter the giveaway, simply share a comment. A winner will be randomly drawn on Tuesday, November 1.

Guinea Pigs and Other Minor Inconveniences

I like to keep things real. Here’s a true confession: along my pebble-throwing journey I’ve discovered that loving others can sometimes be unpleasant and inconvenient.

It was late summer, a week or two before my daughter’s launch from our nest to begin her college years. Shopping for clothes in a heatwave had left my mom, daughter and I parched. When the coffee shop barista prepared an extra iced coffee the sweaty, shoeless man we’d passed a few stores back flashed into my mind. I grabbed the drink, dove back into the wall of heat and humidity and headed down the street.

I found him with eyes closed, stretched out on the bench in front of the upscale downtown shops.

iced-coffee“I’m not sure if you even like cold coffee,” I extended the drink to him, “but the Starbucks lady made us an extra. Would you like it?”

He opened his eyes and smiled. “Thank you ma’am. Yeah, I’ll take it. It’s not really my thing but I’ll drink it.”

I blessed him and went on my way hoping it would raise his spirits and lower his core temperature in the midst of the brutal August humidity. It made me feel good but didn’t really cost me a thing.

Days later, while rushing to get out the door to a morning meeting, I sweat bullets as I dressed. I threw a clip in my hair and fanned my perspiring face. Then it hit me—my neighbor’s late night text.

“My A/C is out. I may need to borrow your fan in the morning.”

She also needed a place for her guinea pig to hide out from the heat.

At the risk of subjecting myself to hate mail from all the animal lovers reading this, I admit that I’m not an animal person. And I’m definitely not a rodent person.

no-ratsI didn’t want my neighbor’s guinea pig in my house. I didn’t want to stop my already rushed morning routine and risk being late for my meeting. (I detest being late; just ask my kids.) I didn’t want to negotiate this minor inconvenience. But I knew what I needed to do. I texted her a quick note to check in.

Yes, she needed the fan and yes, she was bringing her guinea pig over right away.


She came. We got her roden… ahem, I mean her pet set up in my bedroom. She said her goodbyes and I tried not to look at my watch. She left. I wiped my brow, rushed to my car, and zipped out of my neighborhood.

On the way to church, it nearly gagged me. My selfishness.

A knot rose in my throat as I listened to the Holy Spirit. Serving others isn’t about how we feel. It’s a choice. Serving often involves inconvenient choices and laying down our very lives. Laying down what is inconvenient and hard and comfortable and logical.

It wasn’t logical for Jesus to wash His disciples feet. That was dirty servant work. Stinky work. Not pleasant and surely not Jesus’ first choice of how to spend his time.

And certainly, dying on a cross was the furthest thing from convenient. And was it ever costly. It cost Jesus everything.

Unlike the coffee I gave to my homeless friend that cost me absolutely nothing.

Maybe when God prompted me to help my neighbor, He was upping the ante to draw out my reaction and expose a dark place in my heart. My reaction wasn’t what I’d hoped. But my Heavenly Father isn’t only a God of second chances. He’s a God of new daily mercies and compassion. A Father who is gentle and more than willing to teach his selfish, stumbling children how to wash stinky feet with all their heart.

I pray that as He sends more homeless people to love, neighbors to serve, and feet to wash that I’ll learn the holy art of being inconvenienced for Jesus’ sake.

How about you? Join the conversation by sharing the uncomfortable, inconvenient things God might be asking you to do.

Throwing Pebbles in Guatemala

Oswald Chambers says, “Prayer does not equip us for greater works—prayer is the greater work.” As I blog about tossing pebbles out into the world that ripple change, I’m encouraged to see God at work through prayer.

  • God open doors for the Gospel through prayer.
  • God heals through prayer.
  • God convicts and restores relationships through prayer.
  • God sets captives free through prayer.

Today I’d like to do two things. First, let me introduce some pebble throwers down in Guatemala. It’s the yellow/gold country to the left of Honduras (purple):


Meet David and Regina White and their children, Cruz and Ben.whites-8-16

They are on mission in Guatemala loving people and sharing the Good News. Second, let’s do the great work of prayer and partner with them as they bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Guatemala. Please pray for:

1)  Anointing of the Holy Spirit as they teach Bible studies in Muyurco, Lagunetas, and Nearar. Pray for the hearts of those in each village who will be hearing God’s Word.

2)  Regina as she homeschools their boys. For God’s power, peace, and patience as she juggles home, school, and ministry.

3)  Ministry partner Miguel as he takes seminary classes and for his bold witness to his family, neighbors, and friends. For God to meet his physical, spiritual, and financial needs.

4)  Village leaders: Rafa, Julio, Anacleto, and Reyes to stay strong in their faith despite persecution from neighbors and community leaders.  For God’s protection over them and their families lives.  For filling of the Holy Spirit to boldly share Christ.

David shared recently that “We cannot think of anything else we’d rather be doing with our lives.” What a joy to see the satisfaction that flows from tossing the exact pebbles God prepared in advance for this family to throw. Glory to God!

Six Things: When You Feel Like Quitting

It’s that thing your heart beats for. It’s part of you; something you’re wired to do. It’s your high calling, your pebble throwing mission.

Perhaps it’s freeing girls from human trafficking. Maybe it’s rescuing endangered animals. Or caring for foster children, or the environment, or helping frazzled moms love their families well.

As you’ve pursued your mission, have you ever felt like quitting?

I have.

(If you haven’t, feel free to save this for a rainy day. There may come a time when you wonder if you heard God wrong or if what you’re doing is making a lick of difference.)

For the rest of us, here are six things when you’re having one of those days:

1. “Just” pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Why do we say this? I’ve said it. “Is there anything else I can do besides just pray for you?” The truth is, if we all “just prayed” instead of spinning our wheels trying to do stuff, the world would be a dramatically different place. If your bent is toward “doing” rather than “being,” remember this: the next time you go to take action (send an e-mail, plant a tree, write a chapter, begin a recycling campaign, sign up for a mission trip, organize a fund raiser or whatever) take a breath. Ask God to use your efforts, edit your words, multiply your work, or stop you if it’s not the way He’d have you go.1thessalonians5-17

2. Every time you say yes to the wrong thing you’re saying no to the right thing.

When you commit to something that’s not part of your highest calling, it diminishes your ability to complete your highest calling. Whenever possible, each yes should propel you toward your mission. Do you feel ineffective in what you’re doing? Pause to evaluate your yeses. Give yourself permission to say no in order to free up time to pursue your Best Yes, as Lysa Terkeurst calls it. Jesus did this. He said yes to only those things that aligned with His highest calling.

3. Spend time with those who embrace your highest calling.

Not everyone will completely get your mission. But seek out friends on social media and in your school, neighborhood, and community who do. Seek out others whose hearts beat for what you’re doing to help spur you on. And most importantly, spend time with the Author of your highest calling, getting quiet with God, reading His word, and just being with Him. Psalm 63:1

4. Recruit others to pray specifically for this calling with you. Acts 12:12

Every other Tuesday morning, I circle up with four women. These friends are on my write-the-book journey for the long haul. They were praying for my book long before I traveled to Africa or began blogging. When I tire of updating them on my progress (or lack thereof), they still pray for me. Thanks to them and others, I’ve not given up on this book.

5. Expect things will get messy and don’t give up when they do. Galatians 6:9


You will have “those days” when you hit a wall and are D-O-N-E, done! Michael Hyatt calls it the messy middle.“Everything is harder than you expect it to be. The hill is steeper. The road is longer. You are not sure you have what it takes to finish.”

Preparing for this season helps you push through instead of being devastated and giving up. Consider writing a “messy middle” letter to yourself on a day when you have a fresh vision of your mission. When you hit your wall, read it out loud and allow God to reignite your passion for His calling.

6. Remember who got you into this. Ephesians 2:10


This photos reminds me of three things:

  1. The author of my calling is God. I didn’t think it up myself. I responded to His holy invitation.
  2. The One who called me has unlimited power and resources. All I must do is ask.
  3. Ultimately, my Heavenly Father is the only one I need to please.

On the dark days when you feel like you’re a crazy person for thinking you could do what you’ve set out to do, # 6 is everything. And when number 6 is even hard to do, repeat #1.

What has God called you to do? Have you experienced the messy middle? When everything screams “give up!” what has helped you stay the course?

Signs, Wonders, and a Sleepy Church: book review of The Heavenly Man

When’s the last time you witnessed something truly remarkable? Certainly nature is remarkable. Miraculous even. But real-life, jaw-dropping, remarkable stories don’t come along every day, which is precisely why I couldn’t put this book down.

The Heavenly Man rocked my world. In his book, Liu Zhenying (aka Brother Yun) shares his story of enduring unthinkable pain and suffering including prison, torture, manhunts and separation from his family as a result of government crackdowns on Chinese Christian house churches.

Brother Yun’s devotion to lay down his life—quite literally—for Jesus Christ is beyond inspiring. I was instantly won over by His love for Jesus, hunger to know and memorize the Bible (the entire New Testament), and courage to share the gospel despite horrific persecution. And the miracles were astonishing, the same type of miracles we read about in Acts. The very miracles that have caused some to question if this story could all be true.

Many American and European pastors have asked Yun why we don’t see many signs and wonders in the West. I found great wisdom and biblical truth in his admonition:

“The greatest miracles we see are not the healings or other things, but lives transformed by the Gospel. We’re not called to follow signs and wonders, instead the signs and wonders follow us when the gospel is preached. We don’t keep our eyes on the signs and wonders; we keep our eyes on Jesus.”

We worship a miracle-working God. As pebble throwers who seek to reach out to the lost, broken, and hurting, we are on the front lines, co-laboring with the Miracle Worker himself. Brother Yun is in the trenches, laying down his life for the Great commission.

When you step out, literally into enemy territory, you will face persecution, and you will be desperate for the presence, protection, and miraculous power of God, the very same God “who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.”

This book contains miraculous accounts including [spoiler alert]:

  • Yun cries out to God for a Bible, has a vision of two men delivering a Bible who later appear suddenly in the middle of the night risking persecution to hand him, you guessed it, a Bible
  • Yun survives in prison for 74 days without food or water—yes, 74 days
  • Yun’s severely damaged legs are healed while God opens maximum security prison gates, through which Yun walks past armed guards and out of gates into broad daylight

One reviewer calls this book “an absolute must for the sleeping churches of the West.” Agreed. Are you up for a soul awakening? If you don’t want to read about the remarkable and prefer not to examine your own spiritual complacency, don’t open this book. But if you’re up for a wild-but-true story and a loving rebuke, then please do!

The Heavenly Man also schooled me on some things:

  1. How to pray for the persecuted church:

“Don’t pray for the persecution to stop! We shouldn’t pray for a lighter load to carry, but a stronger back to endure! Then the world will see that God is with us, empowering us to live in a way that reflects his love and power. This is true freedom!”

  1. To be careful of how our churches seek to grow and bring revival:

brother-yun-preaching“When I’m in the West, I see all the mighty church buildings and all the expensive equipment, plush carpets and state of the art sounds systems. I can assure the Western church with absolute certainty that you don’t need any more church buildings. [Those] will never bring the revival you seek.” He goes on to say what is needed: a return to the Word of the Lord and obedience to that Word. “When God moves in the West, it seems you want to stop and enjoy his presence and blessings too long, and build an altar to your experiences.”

  1. The greatest way to experience God’s presence and His blessings:

“It’s only when we step out in obedience and share the Gospel with people that we come to know God’s blessing in every area of our lives.” Philemon 1:6

“Every House church pastor in China is ready to lay down his life for the gospel. When we live this way, we’ll see God do great things by his grace.”

  1. What it truly looks like to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus.

Have you recently read a book that challenged you, inspired you, or made you examine your heart for Jesus? Please share in the comments!

Relationship Is Better Than Meat

More than any other place on earth, Africa and her people have witnessed to me about the beauty of relationship. It’s no wonder she birthed this proverb: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

Some of the wisest words about relationship were spoken to me by my Ugandan friend, Pastor Elijah Sebuchu. I learned from him that “relationship is better than meat.” His mom taught him the power of relationship as a small boy.

“Work with all types and learn to relate well to people—even your enemies,” she told Elijah. “Your relationships with people will win them from evil to good. Always remember: relationship is better than meat.”

day 3 (7)Elijah’s empty belly and young mind were challenged by this saying. After all, he grew up in an impoverished corner of the world where the scarcity of meat drives people to eat rats. But by investing in relationships, he and others joined forces to provide life giving education and care to 1,850 of Uganda’s most vulnerable children. The ripple of effects of his pebble are mind-blowing thanks to God and the power of relationship.pic 75
I was reminded of meaty relationships recently when my family watched this IMAX film celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the national park system:

We ooohed and ahhhed at the parks’ majestic beauty while learning about America’s most famous and influential naturalist and conservationist, John Muir, and his powerful connection with Theodore Roosevelt.

After Muir published “Our National Parks,” he connected with Roosevelt in 1903 when the pair camped together in the beauty and grandeur of Yosemite Park. “There, together, beneath the trees, they laid the foundation of Teddy Roosevelt’s innovative and notable conservation programs.” john muir and rooseveltGod used that campout to light a fire within Roosevelt who later established 148 million acres of National Forest, five National Parks and 23 National Monuments during his term.

john-muirGod hard wired John Muir with a heart that beat for nature. His “pebble” was protecting nature and inviting others to enjoy her beauty. Roosevelt’s vast sphere of influence allowed Muir’s pebble to ripple much further than Muir ever dreamed. Thanks to this very influential friendship, thousands upon thousands of visitors have benefitted year after year from the stunning glory of our National Parks.

What lights your fire? Or makes your ears perk up? Which headlines cut you the deepest? Human trafficking? The refugee crisis? Foster children? The homeless gentleman you passed on your way home today?

Maybe you’re thinking, “Yes, but what am I supposed to do about it?”

Stop and consider those in your sphere of influence who might help your pebble ripple further than you’d ever dreamed. What’s stopping you from tossing your pebble in their direction? Take a step of faith today and pray with me now:

Father, whenever I hear about _________ or read or watch a story about _______ my heart hurts. I want to toss a pebble that matters. Show me who I know or send someone influential across my path so this tiny pebble can make a world of difference. Help me “to bring You glory here on earth by completing the work You gave me to do” ( John 17:4). Help me to invest in relationships that bear fruit for your kingdom.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

But I don’t want to be a missionary!

Belly down on the avocado green shag carpet in my brother’s bedroom, I listened to Journey pumping from the cassette deck on his stereo. With “Don’t Stop Believing” blaring in the background, my brother shared his dream of going on mission trips. I cared way more about making the cheerleading squad and which Izod shirt I was going to wear with my khaki pants, tightly rolled above my ankles. (If this makes no sense, you are not a child of the 80’s!)

12710202 - 1980s girl with attitude

My older brother had great concern for people he’d never yet met. People who lived far, far away. I found his international bent interesting. He’s always loved weird food, learning languages, and meeting people from all over the world.

I wondered if God prewires people like him for mission work. I felt guilty that I didn’t have the same desire. Maybe I should want to. But my teenaged attention span was consumed by friends, fashion, and having fun.

When God later got a hold of my heart, I began to care about people in a new way—all kinds of people. In David Platt’s book, Follow Me, he reasons that you can’t help but bring others to Christ once Jesus has transformed your heart. When you are saved, Platt argues, you’re regenerated, and things that were once unimportant (like caring about the nations) become a priority.

As I began to know Jesus personally, He began swapping out my old desires for new ones. Like the surprising desire that came one day in the mid-90s after reading a newspaper article about the Kosovo refugee crisis. Before I knew it, I was apartment shopping for a family of four refugees. There was another time when I got an insatiable urge to travel to dusty Kampala, Uganda, E. Africa.

DSC_0385At my church missions conference last year, this statement made by Danny Akin, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, grabbed me:

“The Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of Jesus. Jesus was the first missionary. The closer you get to Jesus, the more mission minded you become.”

I believe all Christ followers are called to a mission field. But what if you don’t want to be a missionary? That’s ok. Instead, be missional. Being missional simply means you’re willing to be used by Jesus to love others. And today, I’m specifically addressing being globally missional with those who are not “from here.”

missionaryIt’s no problem if you don’t feel called to the mission field. But do you desire to love the nations? Or, is this a part of your heart you are withholding from Jesus?

If you love Jesus—if He lives within you—doesn’t that mean His love for the nations dwells in you too? So what’s keeping you from allowing His crazy love at work in you to toss some pebbles in a foreign place? Or to people who’ve traveled from afar to your area?

Perhaps you fear God would ask you to leave everything and go to some lonely place where you’d eat only tofu and beans and never take a hot shower? I have no idea what Jesus will ask you to do. I can only promise that loving the nations will increase your love for Him. It will increase your dependency on Him and understanding of His heart for all God’s children.

Which reminds me of a song I used to sing in church when I was five or six years old:

Do you love the nations? Please jump into the conversation by leaving a comment.

Five Words for Frazzled Moms of Littles

If the days are so intense you’re not sure you’ll make it to bedtime. . .

If screaming has become your new vernacular. . .

If you’re forced to decide between 15 minutes of quiet time or a shower but both seem nearly impossible. . .

If you feel like your kids deserve more than you have to give…

I have five words for you.

But first, a flashback.

My kids are nearly grown and out of the house. They wash themselves, feed themselves, drive themselves, do their own laundry (on a good day) and embrace their independence. Our home is increasingly quieter these days. It’s a season that quite honestly feels very strange. But that’s another post for another day.

But, I remember well being a mom of littles. I remember bouncing my refuses-to-nap infant son, while potty training my two-year-old daughter who’d decided to use potty training to wade into the waters of toddler rebellion.

I remember a desperate phone call to my husband one day:

woman phone

“I can’t do this. I don’t think I have it in me. I am so angry at her. She knows exactly what she’s doing. I want to scream.”

He talked me off the ledge that day. But as petty as potty training seems in light of Orlando’s tragedy, refugees, and human trafficking, it still felt awfully intense for me.

Are you in that place today?

Do you need some good news?

Sometime after my potty training meltdown, my husband sprung me from littles duty for an evening out with my moms group.

31021327 - group of female friends enjoying meal at outdoor restaurant

At dinner, I sat next to a seasoned mom, about 10 years older than me. She listened intently with a deep sense of empathy as I shared (dumped) my mommy woes onto her. She had been there. She could’ve finished my sentences for me.

After nodding, listening, and smiling, she said three simple words.

“It gets easier.”

I chewed my salad and nodded my head thinking, “Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard that before.”

She must’ve read my mind because she reached out her hand and gently rested it on my shoulder as if to say, “I don’t think you really heard what I said.”

I picture this moment kind of like those times when Jesus reached out his hand to a disciple or seeker and looked directly into their eyes. He then spoke pay-attention words that underscored their need to listen carefully: “Verily, verily I say to you.”

This seasoned mom’s body language and eyes were telling me to heed the truth she had for me. I was all ears now.

“No, really,” she said. “It gets a lot easier.”

I will never forget her words. They were true then and time proved that it did get way easier. But when you’re about to lose it because of the weighty demands of mothering littles, you’re vulnerable to a very specific pack of lies that satan loves to spew:

6117297 - mother with children having a lot of stress doing the homework

“No one sees what you’re doing and all this is insignificant.”

“Changing diapers, making baby food, building blocks, playing dress up. It’s mindless, meaningless work. It’s the same thing every day. Don’t you want more ? You deserve more than this.”

“You used to be attractive and sexy. Look at you now. Does your husband even want to take you on a date?”

“You’re just not keeping up. You need to do more. You’re responsible for getting it all right. If you mess this up, you’re messing up their entire lives. You better work harder, read more books. Do more, so your kids will be more.”

“You’re doing ok, but they’re probably missing out because you’re not doing enough. You better keep up with the other moms so your children don’t fall behind.”

“You’re smart. You have a four year degree! You’re throwing away your skills and value to the world.”

“You’re their only mom and no one loves them like you. If you’re not discipling them correctly toward God, who will? If you fail them, there will be eternal consequences.” (Even though there’s some truth to this, it’s still a half truth. Satan loves to zing us with half truths.)

I think you get the idea. Let’s cut to some truth.

Verily, verily, I say to you moms of littles:

  • Your role as a mother is likely one of the most significant roles you’ll ever fill on earth. Motherhood matters tremendously to God.
  • God handpicked you to parent the specific children you have. He didn’t choose someone else. He chose you. You have something unique to give these kids that none other can offer them and they have qualities none can offer you.
  • God is refining and shaping you through motherhood. He is teaching you how to serve well. Servanthood is absolutely critical to being a disciple of Christ—Jesus came to serve. David Foster defines servanthood as “radical self-denial in favor of meeting another’s need.” Your children, needy as they are, teach you the daily discipline of radical self-denial. Learning to serve this way is a gift (even when it doesn’t feel like a gift 🙂 )
  • You can’t do it all. Jesus doesn’t want you to because your kids need to see your need for Him. They need to see you fail and reach out to lean on His strength so they learn to do the same. They don’t need a perfect mom. They need a perfect Savior and mom who shows them their need for Him.
  • By abiding in Christ’s strength and pointing your children to Him, you are raising kingdom changers. You may be raising a missionary, a pastor, a teacher, a pilot, a CEO, or even more a servant-hearted, Jesus-loving mom or dad. The generational ripple effects of your mommy work would likely blow you away if God gave you just one glimpse.

So hang in here and hang onto Jesus. And remember. . .

It gets a lot easier.

Seasoned moms, please throw a pebble of wisdom to moms of littles by posting a comment that might ease their burden today.

Lifehacks Bible Giveaway

Today’s the day! I’m uber excited about giving away The Lifehacks Bible. At first, I had no clue what a Lifehacks Bible might contain. But from the very first pages of the introduction, I was intrigued:

“This is a guide for every Christian interested in asking themselves, ‘What would I do to become more like Jesus?’ This Bible is designed for anyone who would answer, ‘I’ll do whatever is required to become more like Jesus. . . but I’m not sure what that process entails.’”

lifehacks2The Lifehacks Bible provides 365 articles that attempt to explain the becoming-like-Jesus process, peppered into the NIV (New International Version) of the living word of God.

To explain this Bible’s goals, let me breakdown two terms. First: spiritual formation:

According to author Joe Carter, spiritual formation is “the process by which Christians, in union with Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, become conformed to the character of Christ for the purpose of communion with God.”

Ok. So, what’s a lifehack?

Any advice, shortcut, tip or skill that helps you get things done more efficiently and effectively.

lifehacks3These lifehack articles (one for every day of the year) give very practical, doable exercises and disciplines to become more like Jesus. Still not sure you get it? Here are some of the lifehack topics:

  • scripture memorization
  • journaling
  • gratitude
  • rest
  • prayer
  • seeing Jesus in Scripture
  • obedience
  • fasting
  • evangelism
  • solitude and silence
  • and more!

One of my favorite aspects of this Bible is how it motivates and guides me in asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate the words of scripture—whether Old Testament or New—and show me how to apply them to my life.

I did struggle just a bit with focus and staying on the text. With a plethora of fascinating articles like “How to handle hard-to-understand-texts in the Bible,” “The Benefit of Reading the Scriptures Aloud,” “What to Do When You Don’t Feel Like Worshiping,” and “Sleep as a Spiritual Activity” flipping around to read only the articles and skipping over the actual Bible was tempting.

Still, I highly recommend adding this Bible to your spiritual toolbox as you seek to work out your salvation with fear and trembling and take up your cross daily as a disciple of Christ.

So what are you waiting for? Comment below and I’ll enter you in my drawing. If you’re the winner, you’ll be notified on Friday June 24th after 5 p.m. If you don’t win, go here to purchase one for yourself. You’ll be glad you did!