One Word 2018 – Peace

Last night I reflected on my One Word for 2017, and today after more thought and prayer, I have finally selected my One Word for 2018.

Peace.

And I have some specific reasons why this is my One Word for the upcoming year.

The main reason is because of 1 Peter 2:11 – Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. (NLT).

This was something Lysa TerKeurst talked about in her book Made to Crave, and it’s something that has stuck with me for years. I know what it’s like to have a “wage war within my soul”, and I’ve come to realize it must be treated as an alarm to danger. Ignoring it means I am refusing to heed the Holy Spirit, refusing to exchange my will for the Father’s. In my experience, this has always been a path that leads to chaos and despair, never peace.

So this year I want to walk and grow in true peace. I believe true peace is something that comes only from the Lord when we are obeying His commands to love Him first and love others second. I believe it doesn’t fit any human definitions, and can be obtained regardless of outside circumstances.

I know what my struggles are. Over-indulging in food and desiring to be lazy with my physical body. Depression and discontentment, especially in winter. While these are not my only struggles by any means, these are the re-occurring ones where I seem to struggle the most with being at peace. I praise God for how far He has brought me in these areas and the victories He has already given me. Now I long to continue this path with Him because I know I’m not done yet, and having tasted some victory I long to drink of His peace.

Additionally I want to have peace this year when it comes to serving. The last few months have left me frazzled and I’m not sure if it’s an issue of poor time management on my part, or if it’s an issue of over-committing myself. However, THE issue I KNOW I have is not spending serious time in prayer with God seeking HIS will in this area of my life, and as He is the only source of peace, it’s time I really lay down at His feet and ask for His direction.

Redeemed. Mending. Discipline. Hope. Focus.

Peace.

Thank you Lord for another year to continue in this journey and this life.

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One Word 2017 Ending

I just went back and read my blog post where I shared my One Word for 2017. The neat thing about blogging, which in many ways for me is therapeutic and encouraging, is that it helps me to see a bigger picture I might have otherwise forgotten about.

In this case, looking back has encouraged me this evening.
You see, this morning at church I was struggling to focus (no pun intended here) on the sermon. My mind was wandering and my thoughts seemed frazzled. Certain words from my pastor would break through the tangled webs of my mind, awaken me and encourage/convict me.
And then my mind would take the words and wander away again.

This all naturally led me to think about my One Word, and with it being New Year’s Eve, reflect on my One Word choice. Focus.  And this morning, in my spider web of thoughts, I was beginning to feel pretty discouraged about how miserably I had failed at my One Word goals.

Until tonight when I sat down and really took the time to reflect on those goals…

  • To focus on where and how God wants me to serve my immediate family, my church family, and others. 
    • I feel I have found victory while still having struggle. I am more aware of some of my strengths, gifts the Lord has bestowed on me that I can use for His people and His purposes. Simultaneously, I still struggle with feeling inadequate. I find myself feeling more compassion for Moses standing before the burning bush. Those questions of who am I and but what if bursting from my lips, my heart at times slow at soaking in the truth that God is with me. The thing is, God IS WITH ME, and as a result I have stepped out into ministry I never thought I would have, and have been blessed even among the struggle of inadequacy with it.
  • To focus on my dream to write a book from start to finish. 
    • I have dreamed this story. Literally, I dream about it at night. I dream the next chapter and the characters and the story line. I am genuinely excited to write it. At the same time – it’s time that I lack. I find myself thinking of it daily, yet struggling to find the necessary time to get it all written out. Tonight however, I am reminded that I have written several chapters. That I haven’t given up. So I am encouraged in the New Year I will continue to work on it, until finished.
  • To focus on His Word daily, to continue the habit of personally meeting with Him.
    • Praise God for His faithfulness in this. In 2017 I read the Bible chronologically. The experience was good, and it kept me constantly coming back to His Word, which kept me constantly coming back to Him, and thinking of Him, and praying to Him. However, as with the book situation, these last few months I have felt scattered in this area as well. Scattered with being intimate with the Lord, with being His bride instead of a distant second cousin. I think the difference is that in 2016 I journaled through the Bible, where as this past year I just read through it. So in 2018 my intent is to journal through it again. This year I was also encouraged by my husband reading through the Bible at the same time. It was sweet for us to discuss what we were reading at times and to know someone else was facing the same time struggles and falling behind struggles, and also getting the same encouragements and convictions.
  • To focus on preparing my nest as my son is a sophomore in high school, and in a few short years my husband and I will have the house to ourselves.
    • In this I give great thanks. How ironic it is that today of all days, is a day that my marriage has come under spiritual attack. Why do I say that? Because now that I am taking the time to sit down and truly focus on reflecting over the last year, there is SO MUCH PRAISE to be given here. My husband and I have had an “off” day today. Yet, this year, has truly been a blessing. We ENJOY one another’s company. We have rekindled a romance, and a deep friendship this past year. Praise God for His mercies and His leading in our marriage, and for the fruit He is helping us to produce, and for the rotten branches He is faithful to continue to confront and trim away.
  • To focus on my health and wellness, and continue to put into practice truths God revealed to me through my Made to Crave journey.
    • This is probably where the last few months I have lost the most focus of all. I’m realizing in this life, this is an area I only experience victory in when I am actively walking the path of victory. What I mean by this is that I must actively be in some sort of study, a spirit of conviction, to continue to honor the Lord with my physical body by not over-indulging in food and laying around in laziness. People struggle with all sorts of different sin issues, I struggle with ungodly over-indulgence in food. Yet, even in this I find encouragement, because this has really been bringing to life the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9. It is in this weakness that Christ’s power may be made perfect and work in me.

In addition to all of this, this year I also learned a new phrase. “Imperfect Progress”. It’s a concept Lysa TerKeurst talks about in her book Unglued. I find that this phrase, along with a description she gives about God being the master chiseler, chiseling me into a finished sculpture, have really grabbed hold of my heart. And I think it describes my One Word journey the best.

Imperfect Progress. I have made some imperfect progress with my One Word – Focus. I have found some direction, and where I have scattered and struggled, now as the year ends I find even the struggle is helping me to re-calibrate so that in the new year, I can continue moving forward. Which is my biggest blessing of all this year. I look back on 2017 as a year of moving forward. Maybe not as much as I had originally hoped, however, moving forward none-the-less. For that I am truly thankful.

I’m taking a little more time tonight to prayerfully consider my One Word for 2018. I’ll be back tomorrow to share what it is, because I know that as part of my new year, I want to pick up my blogging again. It’s my way of sharing my heart, and reminding myself of God’s goodness.

I pray my friend that whereever you are, you can see the imperfect progress of your own journey. And that you can also remember God is with you, calling you into an intimate relationship with Himself through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who loves us more deeply than we can ever fathom.

I pray that we can all learn how to live the abundant life in Christ as part of our 2018 journey.

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A Tale of Cake and Love

Gather round dear friends and let me tell you a tale.
It is a tale of love.
Love of parents to their children, and of spouses to each other.

It all began innocently enough when Mom decided this year she wanted to make their children birthday cakes from scratch. With the help of the son and a little input from the daughter, she determined to make from scratch a “Prize Chocolate Cake” and a “Golden Lemon Chiffon Cake“.

The Prize Chocolate Cake started easily enough, until she realized it was a 3 layer cake and she only had 2 pans. And then of course, in addition to that, she quickly realized not having a Kitchen Aide meant she was short a few hands, so Dad came to the rescue.

Now Dad and Mom have worked all day. Additionally Dad had worked hard remodeling the basement all week while Mom was busy rearranging the upstairs. As Dad assisted Mom with the chocolate cake baking, he was simultaneously working on the “honey-please-do” list Mom had given him. And she was simultaneously trying to clean the house to prepare for the Birthday gathering the next day.

They laughed and talked and joked. They complimented one another’s work on the house. How much more would they had savored the moment had they knew what was to come?

After the first 2 layers baked, Mom quickly washed and dried the pan in order to get the third layer baking. Alas. This was when things began to take a turn.

Mom, tired and slightly frazzled, started washing the pan while still wearing oven mitts. Dad laughed it off as did she. Next she cried out in a panic when she realized the oven timer was not set. Of course, it took her a moment to realize there was no cake in the oven yet as it was what Dad was currently working on. He laughed, and she decided to sit down and start reviewing the instructions for the second cake.

While round two of the son’s cake was cooking, Mom started prepping for the daughter’s cake. The instructions had phrases in it which she had never heard of before. She OK GOOGLE’D what it meant to make a “well” in flour. She sifted the flour. She made the “well”. She added in the exact order the wet ingredients just like it said to do. Meanwhile Dad was busy separating egg yolks and egg whites for step 2 of the lemon cake.

Finally it came time to “beat the mixture satin smooth“. Dad started beating, and almost instantly the mixture, a glob of thick glutenous glue, started climbing up the beater.

“How are you supposed to beat this “satin smooth”?!” Dad declared, “This is not going to happen.”

“Maybe you are supposed to use a whisk or a fork or something?” Mom wonders, not phased and simply prepared to just work around the small detail. She tries without a lot of success to get all of the glutenous glue off the beaters. Dad continues to mix it with a spoon, shaking his head.

Next came the forming of “very stiff peaks” with the egg whites.
What was to follow was the “pouring the batter in a stream over entire surface of egg whites“.

Now, Dad knew this step was coming, and his anxiety was growing with every stir of the glutenous glue. “Honey, this is NOT going to work. We need to throw this out. Something is wrong.”

“It will be fine,” Mom said, refusing to admit defeat. “Maybe it won’t be light and fluffy but I’m sure it will still taste fine.”

Dad attempted to combine the two bowls, and this was when he really started to have a very great concern over the condition of the batter.

“I’m telling you, this is NOT going to work. Seriously, we can’t serve this tomorrow. This is no good.”

“It will be fine. Maybe we need to beat it from the middle of the ‘well’? Maybe that’s why you make a well? I only have enough ingredients to make two and one is to share and one is to send home with her. We will just cute it up into bite size pieces or something and send her home with the other one.”

*** tense marital silence ***

“Honey, this is NOT going to work. This is just wrong. We did something wrong. How much oil did you put in?”

“I put in exactly what it said.”

“What about water? How much water?”

“The book is right there. Take a look yourself.”

Dad walks away from the glutenous glue which he is attempting to force to “blend” into the egg whites. He is muttering to himself, looking over the list, looking back at the bowl.

“Something isn’t right. This just isn’t right. We are not making another one. I’m making the executive decision right now. We are not making another Chiffon Cake.”

Mom puts the bowl she was preparing to start adding ingredients to for the second chiffon cake and walks away, clearly agitated. She sits on the couch. There must be two cakes. TWO CAKES.

*** tense marital silence ***

Dad calls out from the kitchen, “Can you look this up on a YouTube video or something?”

Without answering, Mom turns on the TV, pulls up YouTube and searches “How to make a lemon chiffon cake“. She plays the first video that comes up.

Dad comes out of the kitchen, watching the video. For the last 10 minutes he has given up “blending” and is beating the glutenous glue mercilessly with the broken hand mixer.

(That’s right, my apology reader, in addition to all of the above, the one and only hand mixer the couple owns is broken, so one beater won’t latch into place. This means it constantly tries to fall out of the hand mixer WHILE in mid operation.”

Watching the TV Dad says, “Did you put lemon juice in it?”

“The receipe doesn’t call for lemon juice.” Mom says, a tinge of exasperation beginning to break into her voice.

“Well, something is missing. Something has got to be missing.” Dad goes back into the kitchen. He stands over the recipe book, reading glasses on his nose. He goes back over to the glutenous-gluey-egg-white mixture.

He tastes it.

“Does this have any sugar any it? Any at all?”

Mom blinks. She gives him a blank stare. Meanwhile her brain is going off into a fire ball of “Wait, sugar, mix the dry ingredients. It said sift dry ingredients together. Wait a minute….” She leaps up from the couch and exclaims “That’s it!”

Dashing into the kitchen, shaking her head, she says, “I didn’t put any sugar in it. Or anything other than flour. It needs sugar! Add the sugar and other stuff!”

Dad at this time is now skeptical. The sugar, baking powder, and salt all get added. He continues to blend and finally, oh finally, the glutenous glue begins to dissolve.

“We will just serve this as lemon squares and the other will be the cake!” Mom calls out!

“I really think you should make a different cake.” Dad says. “I still don’t see how it’s going to get satin smooth.”

“I”m telling you it’s the sugar. That was the problem. It will smooth right out with the sugar.”

Now, in Dad’s defense, this is coming from the same woman who kept saying it would be fine when the batter was clearly NOT fine. We cannot blame him for not believing that the sugar would prevent another glutenous gluey mess.

“I don’t know.” He says, his face really saying it all.

“It will be fine.” Mom says, determined now to prove it will work. She gets the second bowl prepped with ALL the dry ingredients this time. She starts adding the wet ingredients to the center of the “well”.

“Are you adding those in the correct order?” Dad asks, looking over her shoulder.

“Probably not,” she says, “But it will be fine.”

“Well, let me go clean this spatula, because you are going to need it when that batter starts climbing into the mixer again.”

“It won’t, I’m telling you, trust me, it’s the SUGAR!!!”

Dad stands next to Mom, spatula ready. Mom begins the beaters, and behold, no glutenous glue forms.

“See,” she says cheerily, “The sugar! Can you get the egg white mixture ready?”

“Sure,” he says, still watching to make sure the glutenous glue doesn’t return.

“Here,” mom says, stepping out of the way. “Make the very stiff white peaks, and then you can add the satin smooth batter so that your soul can be at peace again because it’s doing exactly what the book says.”

She then bursts out into laughter. Dad turns and smiles at her. “Thank you for laughing,” he says, genuinely meaning it.

And then she REALLY starts laughing. She’s laughing so hard she nearly falls over.

“What? What?” Dad asks.

“I love us. We are so stupid. I forget half the ingredients. You can’t handle a receipe not doing exactly what the recipe says. We have spent an hour on this ONE cake batter. I just love us. We are perfect for each other!” She exclaims, and she genuinely means it.

Dad smiles and pours the second cake into it’s pan. He looks back at the first pan.

“That’s not going to cook right.”

“Oh just cook it! It’ll be fine!”

True Love.
The love of Parents to their children – to make home made, from scratch, birthday cakes when they don’t have enough pans, counter top space, or a properly working hand mixer.
The love of Spouses to one another – when they can make two complicated, from scratch birthday cakes for their kids, when they don’t have enough pans, counter top space, or a properly working hand mixer, at the end of a long busy work day, and still love one another with laughter and smiles. Even when the cakes come out of the oven and one looks fantastic while the other looks a little special.

The End.

The Mundane Morning and The Truth

There is a routine that happens during the fall/winter mornings at my house.
I confess, it’s pretty sad.

It begins with my alarm going off multiple times.
I set 4 different ones.
This is after my husband’s has already gone off.
And 99% of the time, I still don’t wake up until he comes to gently nudge me awake, encouraging me to get up before I am late again.

For the record – I am always late again.

In a rush I get up, get dressed, get my make up on, rush to prepare my lunch, check to make sure the manchild has everything he needs for school. Without fail, I always forget something.
My water. My coffee. My lunch bag. My phone. My breakfast shake.

Finally with everything in tow, our manchild calls out to his dad
“love you dad, hope you have a good day!”
My husband wishes him a good day at school and calls out “Love you too”.
Then I give my hubs a good-bye kiss and follow the manchild out the door.

Getting into the actual car becomes another whole ordeal.

Holding a water bottle, a coffee cup, a purse, a breakfast shake,
and a lunch bag proves to be too much.
Without a word, I hold out my coffee cup to the manchild
who takes it and places it in the cupholder.
Then he takes the water bottle while I twist and turn to set my bags in the back.
Most mornings he or my husband have already cranked the car, so it’s warm and defrosted.
On the rare morning they don’t, at this point my son and I scramble back out of the car to wipe and scrape off any snow or ice.

Once we are in and actually ready to take off,
he is in charge of making sure my coffee doesn’t spill.
He turns on the radio, I drink my breakfast down.
Then I’ll toss the empty shake cup down and reach my hand out, he hands me my coffee.
After a bit of coffee we may pray together about the day ahead, or just chit-chat.
Sometimes we sing along to the radio, or we laugh and poke fun
at each other about who made who late.
Some mornings one or the other or both of us are grumpy, maybe instead of “I love yous” we left the house with harsh words and criticism.
Those mornings we ride in silence until it’s time for him to get out of the car.
No matter what, he always turns down the radio as he gets out of the car,
I always say “love you, have a good day”.
And he says “love you too, bye”.

Last week, in the midst of one of these mornings
when we reached the point he was handing me my coffee,
after protecting it from spilling as we bumped over all the potholes on the dirt road,
it struck me.

aaaaaa

I’ll only be taking him to school for two and half more years.
A little less if he has a car to drive himself his senior year.

At the stop sign, as he was checking with his head turned away from me
calling out “nothings coming”, I just took the moment in.
The rushing. The hecticness. The frustration and the laughter at it.
The reality that these mornings are coming to their end, this season of our lives together
as parents and child is winding down.
I took a deep breath to steady my emotions and pulled onto the road.
In the quiet I said gently, “I’m going to miss these mornings with you kid.”

Because it’s true. I am.

I only have one biological child, this manchild of mine. My husband adopted him,
he’s our son growing into a young man.
I have a step-daughter who is already out in the adult world with her own son.
In a few years time my husband and I will enter into what people call “the empty nest”.

Which is a lie. 

That’s what the Lord has laid on my heart these last several months.
You see, my husband and I will not have an empty nest, because we are still here.
He and I, we are the ones who will be living in this nest of ours.
With a puppy, a kitty. And the fish if I can remember to feed them. (RIP greenie).

I was too young when I had my son. The teenage mother statistic.
The truth is, I’ve never been an adult without being a mom.
It’s terrifying to think about.
My entire “adult” life, every decision I made, every thing I did,
I had to consider this son of mine.
I didn’t do it perfectly by any means.
I have volumes I could share with you on all the wrong things a parent can do
because I’ve done it.
However, I did try my very best. I still do.

So as my son is preparing to step out into the adult world, in a way, I am too.
For the first time, I’ll be an adult without a child at home.
My husband and I will have a wide open future before us.
Which is why I think the Lord is telling me to start nesting.

Preparing the nest for the hubs and I. 

I remember nesting before my son was born.
It was instinctual. A God given instinct to prepare myself
and the space I had to bring this boy into the world.
Now I am nesting because my son is becoming an adult.
This is a God given instruction to my heart,
to prepare myself and the space I share with my husband
as we prepare to release this manchild into adulthood.

I don’t fully know what this will look like. I just know that it’s happening.
Writing helps me to process things, and this life transition is both painful and exciting.
My mother’s heart is sad and struggling with what life will look like
when the manchild is no longer in this nest.
My wife’s heart is excited about the future adventures with my husband,
the two of us having precious time together we’ve never had before.

I know I’m not alone in this life transition.

In the upcoming years I am praying the Lord will place women in my path who have gone down it before me, who can encourage me and lift me up.
I have women in my life who are going through it at the same time as I am,
and I am praying we will be an encouragement to one another.
All this so that ultimately, one day, I will be the woman who has gone through it
and can love on a younger sister facing it.

I guess that’s why I’m choosing to blog about this.
To tell the mother hearts out there, your nest is not empty, and you are not alone. 

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One Word 2016 – 2017

One Word 2016Last year my One Word was the word hope. I shared in that blog post that 2015 had been an extremely difficult year. So it’s not surprising 2016 began with us still climbing out of the difficulty.

And God is faithful.

He worked in 2016. Sometimes in totally unexpected ways.
Wounds remained from the previous year, yet they were being healed. Even now there are days that my family feels the effects of the wounds and the healing. It’s a hard process, yet I’ve come to accept the hard process is the refining process and it is a good thing.

I didn’t blog much in 2016. Instead, I allowed myself to be vulnerable to a few trusted women, and they walked with me during the difficulty in truth and love. I continued to seek personal Godly counsel for myself. I recognized areas in my life where I needed to grow, where I needed to turn away from sin, and where I needed to forgive.

Then as 2016 continued, and the healing, I traveled. I spent some wonderful time with family and strengthened relationships. I started to find deeper peace and contentment. After being away from home for nearly a month, I looked forward to returning. God was at work. He spoke into some of my fears, He stirred my heart to recognize and appreciate what He has provided me with at home, and He gave me back my voice that I had somehow started to lose along the way. As the year went on, I continued to feel closer and closer to God and Jesus.

20160620_070518I know one of the reasons for this was I was consistently in His Word. Last year for the first time, I read my Bible cover to cover. I eventually ended up using the Quieting Your Heart: 6 Month Bible Study Journal to help me really chew on what I was reading. I used up two of them over the course of the year. The daily habit of reflecting on God’s character, being intentionally thankful, and prayerfully asking what He was teaching me/revealing to me through His word was a blessing I can’t put into words. I realize now the necessity for a Believer to dig into God’s word personally. Not just in a class, not always with a group of people, and certainly not just at church on Sundays.

And because my word for the year was hope, it meant every day I was eagerly searching for hope in His word. I have come to believe that hope is not an emotional feeling. Hope is much deeper than that. It’s a reality. It’s a truth. A promise. It’s something I can rest securely in, even in the midst of a difficult trial. There are so many four letter words that try to destroy our hope. Fear, Loss, Need, Hurt, Pain. My heavenly Father was slowly and lovingly teaching me that in the midst of those words, I could trust Him. I could still place my hope in Him and Him alone. When everything around me fails, He is unfailing love.

I’m thankful to say that by the end of 2016, we had grown as a family. Our difficult days have become difficult moments. There is more laughter. More peace. It’s not because of us, it’s because of the One who has lifted us up as we have submitted ourselves to Him.

With hope in my heart, I prayerfully considered my word for 2017.

one-word-2017-mine

This year I am looking to focus.

To focus on where and how God wants me to serve my immediate family, my church family, and others.

To focus on my dream to write a book from start to finish.

To focus on His Word daily, to continue the habit of personally meeting with Him.

To focus on preparing my nest as my son is a sophomore in high school, and in a few short years my husband and I will have the house to ourselves.

To focus on my health and wellness, and continue to put into practice truths God revealed to me through my Made to Crave journey.

To focus on blogging where I feel inspiration to share, because I believe God has given me a gift of writing, and I want to use it to encourage others, even if I never know who or how I’m encouraging.

 

Here is to 2017 Friends.

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When You Taste The Bitter Pill

5_Habits_Woman-195x300I finished week 2 of the #5HabitsBook study with #P31OBS. Our second habit in the study was She follows through with her commitments despite how she feels.

It should not have been a surprise to me how the reading last week nudged deep places in this tired, battle weary heart. We all go through these seasons of life where our hearts are under attack, and as the attack continues our hearts stiffen. We go into what the hubs calls “survival mode”. You stop thinking about the future. You stop making plans. You have one goal and one goal only, and that is to make it through today.

The thing about this stiffening of the heart, is that it happens so gradually, we don’t truly realize the effects of it.

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The Significance of 22

It’s just a number. Maybe an important date. Birthday. Anniversary. Number of years married. Part of a phone number. Part of an address.

For me, this morning, this is the number of pounds I have lost since January 1st, 2015. 

I did the happy dance and rushed to share the victorious news with my husband. I smiled and pranced in front of the mirror for a few moments and whispered “Thank you Jesus” several times.

As it really sunk in, I started thinking back.
Back to when the weight started piling on.
Back to when I spent hours and hours, alone during the day, sitting on my couch, eating and watching TV.
Back to when I wore my favorite red hoodie every day, not because it was my favorite red hoodie, because I was covering up. Hiding from the world.
Back to that moment when I went to put on a pair of jeans, and realized, not even my “big” jeans would fit anymore. I was literally without any pants to wear. And I sobbed. And my poor husband wanted to help, and couldn’t, because I was in this foggy, lonely place.
Back to smiling and saying “I’m fine” when people asked, putting on the front, and withdrawing and emo-eating at home.Read More »

Refinement Hurts Before It Heals

5_Habits_Woman-195x300I just finished Week One of the #5HabitsBook study with #P31OBS. This week we were focused on the first Habit which is The Assignment of Refinement. 

In addition to the book itself, I also invested in the “A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit” study guide. Everyday there is a “Quit Quitting Verse of the Day”. Two of these versus stood out to me more than the rest because of the word “HOPE”, my One Word for 2016.

 

Hope.

Accepting the Assignment of Refinement is easy when we see the hope attached to the assignment. The difficulty comes with “life”. This world is an incredibly messy place. It’s messy for men, for women, for children, for families, for everyone.
I watched a video recently where the speaker said something to the effect of “It used to be parents had many children, now children have many parents” commenting on marriage, divorce, re-marriage, etc. Life gets messy, right within our own four walls, without everstepping outside.

This ties directly into my assignment of refinement.
As wife.
As mother.
Big titles with great responsibility, and yet, it really is about how I handle all the little things in life as wife and as mother. The day to day stuff that matters a great deal.

Oy. Vey.

When I first read our verse of the week and the first few chapters, I was inspired. I was on fire. I was all about making it to the end!

Bless my heart, I’ve struggled just making it to the end of this week.

Refinement is hard. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful, it’s wonderful. It’s what we need. In my mind I see myself standing, stripped down to nothing, my hair pulled back, the Lord taking a heavy and coarse brush and literally scrubbing off my hardened, dull, dying, decaying pieces so that something new and soft and beautiful is left behind.

I mean, let’s be real ladies, we love it when we get a really good pedicure. We leave and our tootsies are smooth, soft, freshly painted and ready to say hello to the world! The harsh winter toughness is literally soaked, scrubbed, and buffed away! This is what I envision the assignment of refinement looks like for my very soul!

But it hurts before it heals.

The Lord starts opening our eyes to where we have emotionally checked out. To where resentment has layered itself on thick without us fully realizing it. We see hope, we get excited and inspired, but the truth is our hope is in shallow soil. Affliction comes and burns our hope away because we had no root. No endurance. No proven character. So no hope.

So the real question is, at the end of this week, can I be determined like Ruth?

Determined to look at my Jesus and say to Him:

Where You lead me I will go.
And where You plant me I will stay.
And the family You love and have given to me,
I will love truly and deeply,
with the same truth, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness
that You Love me with.

I’m in a season of life where a lot of days are hard. Tough. In the process of being scrubbed. Praying others will submit to being scrubbed too. Praying we can all walk through this painful scrubbing together so that once all the dead, decaying, infected junk is scrubbed off, the soft pink skin underneath can be truly healed and transformed.

I think HOPE is found in a beautiful cycle. We Hope in Christ. We face afflictions. Hard, unexpected, tough stuff. We determine ourselves to endure it by depending entirely on Jesus. See it through to completion. This allows Him to scrub us down, and prove our character. This gives us Hope, grows our faith as we can see our character transform. So We hope in Christ more, and the cycle continues until we are on the other side of heaven.

We determine ourselves to endure by depending entirely on Jesus.

And that’s the truth of it sisters.
At the start of this week, I was depending on Jesus.
By the end of this week, I started depending on myself.
This Assignment of Refinement will hurt before it heals.
But the hope is,
It will Heal.
It will Transform.
Because We Can Trust God.
We Hope In Christ.
With Hope as our starting point and our ending point,
We accept our assignment of refinement.

Lord,
I want Hope to be rooted deeply within my heart and soul. To be a woman determined to be faithful with the little things you’ve given me. The day to day things. The mundane things. The things that create my character and make up the reality of my life. Forgive me this week where I have been unfaithful. Where I have inquired of myself instead of inquiring of you. Where I have been unforgiving, bitter, and quick to judge harshly. Thank you for your compassions which never fail. Your mercies which are new every morning. Your patience and your great Faithfulness. I am accepting Your assignment of Refinement. I am ready to be healed by your scrubbing grace. I am ready to be like Ruth, a woman determined to follow even when it may look hopeless to others.
Amen.

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