My three kids are a huge part of my life. When I introduce myself, I frequently apply the labels wife and mother to myself, yet my role as a parent can also be a place I highly struggle. Over the last twenty years, I've found many joy-filled moments. My children have loved me, encouraged me, challenged me, and brought me a lot of laughter. As we prepare to launch a couple of them into the world, I look forward to all God will do in and through them. But, like most moms, I'm sometimes wonder if I did enough. This is one of the many questions Chimene Shipley Dupler tackles in The High Calling of Motherhood. "Motherhood is messy and hard. But it is also a gift" (page 28).
Hi, I'm Carrie, and I'm ... a wife, a stay-at-home mother, and a homeschooling mom. No matter the function or focus of the group I was with, these are the titles I would apply to myself when I had to introduce myself. And they are all truthful. But yet, they are, at the same time, deceptive. Ouch. You all know me better than that. Many of you know me as a ministry leader. You know that I'm an author of several books and that I publish a weekly blog. That is part of my life I usually hide. Why? Oh, the answer to that seems complex, but it really isn't.
For some reason, our neighborhood is popular with door-to-door salesmen and religious visitors. Vacuum cleaner salesmen, college kids peddling magazines or books, Jehovah's Witnesses. About once a month, someone is knocking on our door. About once a month, I want to hide behind the curtains and pretend I'm not home. Sometimes I do. Good thing the peephole in my door doesn't work like a window. A Door Knocker in the Bible Did you know that a verse in the Bible mentions Jesus knocking on a door?
Last week I talked about God getting quiet, and three questions you can ask yourself to help clarify whether you missed something. But what if you've done everything right? What if you heard God say to do this thing, you obeyed His request, and it's left you sitting in a hard place? A dry place? An uncomfortable place? Now what do you do? I'll warn you: The answer probably isn't what you want to hear. 3 Possibilities to Consider ...
The issue weighed heavily on my mind. My mind circled the arguments, processing the positives and negatives, trying to determine the best way forward. Yet I wasn't sure what to do, and it felt like God wasn't adding His two cents worth. Why wouldn't He answer? Where was a billboard with God's instructions? Or at least some confirmation from a mature believer on which way was the better way? What do you do when Heaven is silent?
Relationships are hard, and trusting the Lord with them is rarely easy. One devastating time in my marriage is crystal clear in my memory. My husband hadn’t slept in two days because of an undiagnosed medical issue and was highly irritable. We fought, and he raced off on his motorcycle. I ran to our room, sat on the edge of the bed, and sobbed. I contemplated divorce, even knowing that wasn’t the answer. I didn't want to stay, but at the same time I didn't want to leave. I felt trapped. Alone. This brief story from my life relates just one time when despair threatened to overwhelm me. When emotions could have determined my choices. When I could have easily followed my heart right out of my marriage. Emotions are funny things. They surge to the surface without effort and can control us if we aren’t careful. Many people advise you to follow your heart, but that's dangerous advice.
Back in early October, I made two big announcements: I was starting my own publishing company. I was reclaiming the rights to my Crossing series. Several of you patiently waited while my assistant and I waded into the publishing waters. We had some battles to win, fights with computers over formatting issues and such. But we won! The ENTIRE Crossing Series is NOW Available!
Imagine we were meeting at a coffee shop. Or your favorite place to grab lunch. Or the best restaurant in town for great dessert. We're just meeting as friends, getting together to spend an hour or so catching up on each other's lives. Doesn't that sound nice? Now, what if I picked up the check? What if I bought your coffee or sandwich or slice of pie? Would you object? Be honest. It's okay. I would object if you tried to pay for my hot chocolate. What's my point? You, my friend, have a problem.
How important is focus? Last week's post talked about setting goals (if you missed it, click here). But we are all surrounded with good ideas and opportunities to help others and fun places to experience. Even if we took the time to pray and only write down what we believe God wants us to do this year, how closely do we really need to stick to it? Jesus's example Many of you are familiar with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus from the Bible. They were friends of Jesus, and, as they lived in Bethany on the southeast slope of the Mount of Olives, He stayed in their home when He visited Jerusalem. John 11 relates the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead: Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.
A new year. A fresh start. Many of you have set resolutions or goals for 2017. Some of you have already messed them up. That's okay! Start again. Progress is about moving forward, even if it's imperfect. I'm a big believer in goals. If I don't have something to aim for then I get lazy. I meander. I wander through life rather than seeking out the next great thing God has for me. But when I consider the past year and what I'd like to see done in the next, I get excited about the possibilities. Even when the last year had some bumps and twists that were neither planned for nor fun to walk through. I suspect, many of you run into the same big problem I do: What goals should I set? What if I set my sights too high? Or too low? What if I set one goal and something that seems better comes along?