Disillusioned and Dissatisfied: The Inner Struggle of Every Woman

Oprah Winfrey, Miley Cyrus, Hillary Clinton, Kim Kardashian, Barbara Walters, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Sheryl Sandberg, Martha Stewart, and Kate Upton. In reading this, you may wonder what all these women have in common. These women are currently listed as Google’s most searched women[1] and the most successful women of our time[2] . These women are a reflection of what our culture is searching for, in what it means to be a woman.   

Hidden Jewels

In my recent quiet times, I have had the joy of discovering a great book, "The Shaping of a Christian Family" by Elisabeth Elliot. In sharing the history of her family, she shines light on a home that reflected the love of Christ through true stewardship and heartfelt discipline.

I am sad to say that our cultural is so different from what is described, that it often feels as though she is speaking about a family on another planet. Commitments are held in high honor, the family roles preserved, and the discipline to "die to oneself", a precious gift to leave at the feet of Jesus, are all seen as the accepted call of the Christian family.

One of the reasons I love reading Elisabeth Elliot, is because she is always great at reminding us, that none of these things were done in their own strength. It required being in connection with the Lord, His Word and His people daily.

Today, we often find it comical to describe what a mess our lives are and shout our inadequacies as what "real life" looks like. I write this, because I am the best at this. Holding yourself to a higher standard, requires you to humbly go to the Lord to ask for strength to carry it out. 

In a convicting passage, she speaks at how her parents (and quotes Martin Luther on the subject as well), that the tasks that we see as lowly and monotonous, are actually privileges given by the Lord. 

Every hard day at work, diaper changed, laundry to fold, trash to be taken out, should be seen as precious jewels of service for the Lord.

What would happen if we had a heart of thankfulness instead of dread?

Thank you Lord that I have a job to pay our bills. Thank you Lord for giving me this precious child and entrusting them into our care.

I recently shared with my community group, that for years I had prayed to be a wife and mother. One evening as I found myself grudgingly putting up folded clothes, it dawned on me....I had prayed for this very moment. I am asking the Lord to help me to see these mundane moments as precious gifts and to approach life with a heart of gratitude.

Pray with me now:

Lord, help me to have a heart of service. Help me to ask You for help when I just feel overwhelmed of the tasks that lie ahead. Help me to be thankful with the "precious jewels" that You have entrusted me with. Give me the strength to reflect Your heart of love and service in every thing I do today. Amen.

Full Dependency

I recently had a conversation with a new friend whose family has been struggling with an extended period of illness. In my own life, I battle ongoing medical issues, which have debilitated my spirit and brought me to my knees in full dependency before the Lord. 

Illness can be so isolating, but it is also in these times where we lean into the Lord for strength (because we become more fully aware of our weakness) and spend time reflecting in His word, since we are pulled away from the distractions of extra commitments.

Whether this season last for a few days or you are battling a terminal outlook, know that the Lord will be with you during this season. Draw near to Him- for peace, strength & encouragement. I have often found, that I learned what true community is during the depths of my illness. Nothing is more humbling than allowing others to support us when we are unable to care for ourselves. Allow others to love you in your broken weakness and put aside the pride of having it all together. None of us do. 

Today's Verse

The Lord protects and preserves them—
they are counted among the blessed in the land—
he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
3 The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness. - Psalms 41:2-3

Beauty from Ashes

In reflection this week, the phrase, Beauty from Ashes comes to mind when thinking about what it looks like follow Christ. A definitive mark of God's people, is not that they will not experience trials, but that they will face them with confidence in knowing that the Lord will be with them through it.

There have periods in my life, where I have experienced pain, loneliness, and heartbreak. I could not understand how this could ever be for my 'good'.

Looking back, I can see the breaking before the blessing. I wrapped my identity in things of this world and found meaning from the acceptance of others. What happens when you do this? Your world will come crashing down, because all of these things are not lasting. It wasn't until I truly understand that my value and worth could only come from understanding the love extended to me, that I experienced true peace. I still struggle with the same things daily, but instead of believing the lie, leading me to a path of ashes, I am reminded of how God will use those struggles to encourage those around me. I am not defined by my family, house, job, or fame - I am a sinner, who struggles and is saved by grace.

Thank you Lord for using those hard times to help me to equip others, without the pain, it would be impossible to encourage or admonish those around me. Thank you for the pain Lord, to grow and mature me in ways that would of been impossible without it.

Thank you Lord for making beauty of these ashes.

Today's Prayer:

Lord, help us to remember that these hard times do not define us, but instead refine us. Help us to trust in you when all we see is despair. Help us to be faithful, to cling to your truth and give us the strength to endure the hardship of this season. Lord help us to see that you will make beauty of our ashes.

Wise Men Still Seek Him

Now that we have a child, more thoughts are focused on what types of traditions should our family focus on during the holiday season.

The commercialism of Christmas is a wayward trap, although fun (who doesn't love watching Elf this time of year), can pull us away from the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is when our Lord, came to Earth, to be among us, so that He could not only be compassionate to our suffering, but actually end it with His ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

In C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle, he sums up why Christmas is important: 

Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.

Take some time this holiday, to pause and remember that Christmas is not about the perfect family, traditions, or even gifts. Christmas is about recognizing the love of God and that He loved us enough to send His son to save us.

Application and Prayer:

1. Do you often get distracted by the messages our world give us on what Christmas is really about?

2. What traditions do you have in place, to help your family to remember the real meaning of Christmas?

Prayer: Lord, help us to remember that Christmas is not about us. It is not about our families. It is a time of reflecting on the great gift of Your birth. Help us to reflect Your love in our lives and encourage us to share the real meaning of Christmas with someone this season. Amen

 

Press On

Does it feel like your holiday to-do list will never be complete? Do you balance it all well or feel 24 hours is not enough time to do life well?

You are not alone.

It is easy to define our life by productivity or success, but the Lord does neither. He only ask that we come to Him and "press on towards the goal" of living a life that reflects our Lord and Savior. Satan has a great way of pulling us away from our service and callings to lead us to find our definition of success in our abilities.

What keeps me from serving the Lord fully? Distractions. Schedules. Juggling. With all of the daily to-dos, I wake up asking the Lord, how will you empower me to do these jobs today? As work and motherhood take up all of the daily hours, it seems some days that there is no time for a "quiet time". Even these beautiful writings to the Lord become another to-do, when the heart of my service to the Lord is handing every word over for His glory.

Prayer

Lord, give me the strength to press on, even when I am tired. Give me the strength I do not have. Remind me that I am not alone in my journey and that if I focus on You, I will be amazed at how you are gloriously weaving together, everything for my good. Amen.

Quiet Moment

It is in these quiet moments in the evening, that we dwell on the goodness of all the Lord has done in our lives. Moments that seemed to be crushing and disappointing, we can now look back and see that the Lord was weaving together a plan that was ultimately for our good.

Perhaps today you are in one of those valleys. You ask, Lord, how could this possibly be for my good? We pray today, that you would open your heart to lean into the Lord during this troubled season and ask Him to help you see that 'blessings come from raindrops'.

Prayer for Today:

Lord, remind us of all the times Your hand guided us when we could not see the way. Help us to lean into you during this season and ask for You to guide us with your everlasting arms. Amen.

Morning Thoughts

 

Fog covers every inch of the outside world and the view from the window reminds me that it is both the fall and time for being thankful for the warmth of a big cup of hot chocolate and big sweaters. The baby plays happily with the simplest of toys and for a moment, all is well.

I am sure I am not the only mother who has ever wished that more of these moments existed. For every task and the work that takes me away from these quiet moments is both necessary for living and a service to the Lord, but I still relish in the moments of peace.

In this day, you would think there would be more open discussion on how to encourage mothers and less shame regarding technique. The women of our generation have been asked to do more than any other generation before, but without our mothers considering the consequences of ‘having it all’. I can tell you this, being both a mother and career woman, leaves me feeling less like I have it all and more like there is less of me to share. I feel pulled in either direction, with guilt on whether I am investing enough time in either task. I am thankful for the road paved by women before me, but instead of creating a world of choice, we have created a world of having to choose both. Let us pray for mothers today. Pray for the single mom who is spread too thin. Pray for the young mother who overly tired and not sure if she is doing her best. Pray for our generation, that we would value the role of motherhood and become encouragers to every mother around us.

 

Application:

1.       Being a mom can be overwhelming. Thankfully, we have a place to take all of our questions and fears of the unknown in parenting. Run to God who promises to be your safe place to take refuge.

2.       Pray that you will choose to find refuge in the Lord especially when overwhelming thoughts and feelings threaten to take over. Pray that your child or children will find refuge in the Lord.

Desires of The Heart

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who after almost two decades as a homemaker, now has time to pursue other passions. She was down, because of the overwhelming feeling that she must 'achieve' a career or define herself in something other than being someone's wife or mother.

This conversation could not have been more timely, as I was struggling with the exact opposite desire. I longed to devote all my time to the running of our home than juggling the pressures of a full-time job and caring for our young daughter.

It was in this moment, the Lord brought great clarity to the answer to both of our struggles: we both desired to find fulfillment in pursuing the desires of hearts. I reminded my friend (and myself) that we must not believe the lie that her years of services as a stay at home mom were without value. There is nothing wrong with longing to follow our passions, but we must remember that in everything the Lord has given us, He has granted us a mighty gift. This beautiful woman has sacrificed blood, sweat, tears and her own 'worldly' achievements to support her husband and raise her three beautiful daughters. She woke at dawn to make breakfast and meticulously packed lunches to a level of pinterest perfection. She has taken pride in her position and now she comes before the Lord asking, how can I be of service to my family outside the home, as my girls mature into young women?

On the other hand, the Lord showed me, that right now, He has asked me to serve my family by working full-time. My desire to give my heart and energy to my family only, is not wrong, in fact, it is the first calling that I am given by the Lord. Instead, I reflected on the heart of gratefulness, have I thanked the Lord for giving me a job with flexibility? Have I thanked the Lord that I can help our family financially while my husband is school? I had been going to the Lord with a heart longing only for my own desires, than seeing that the Lord has gifted me with this service for a reason. The bible tells us to "Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4). In my infancy, I first thought this meant that the Lord would give me for what I asked for, but I have now learned that when I lean into the Lord, understand His Word, and are surrounded by His people, my desires will be to open myself to uncomfortable situations, growing pains, and seasons in which I don't understand because I can trust that if the Lord desires it for my life, then it will be for my ultimate good and will bring Him glory.

Application:

1. What is the Lord asking you to do today, that is growing you out of your comfort zone?

2. Looking back, how has the Lord used tough seasons in your life, for your good?

3. Pray this today: Lord, I have been living my life, longing for my own desires, help me to see that you are not trying to rip me off, but desire to give me life. Help me to trust you and be 'all in' by trusting you with all of my life.

The Greatest Need

It is often in the moments of our everyday day trials we are reminded  of how much we need God. Why does it take trials or hardships to draw us near to our Savior? 

We live under the illusion that we can get through life on our own and in our strength. Weakness is shamed by our culture instead of identified as a result from crazy schedules, personal responsibility and physical exhaustion. 

We forget, that "With God, nothing is impossible." (Luke 1:37) Pray to the Lord to give you strength in whatever you are going through right now. The Holy Spirit is the Helper, ask the Lord for help in whatever your trial is. We are not alone. We have the Almighty right by our side.  

Prayer: Lord, We need you today. Give us the strength today to go out into the world, remembering who You are and let us bring joy and encouragement to everyone we interact with today. Help us to remember that we serve a God in that nothing is impossible.  

The First Missionary

Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

—Matthew 4:19

Jesus Himself was the first missionary! He did not sit by passively and let those who happened to be interested in His teaching come to Him. He went out where the sick, the sorrowing, and the sad were, and expounded His message of joy, healing, and salvation. Even at a tender age, He went to the Temple and “taught” the doctors and lawyers who were entrenched in the old traditions. He found His way to the seaside and intruded upon the life of the commonest of laborers, saying, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Wherever He went He challenged, uprooted, and changed men. And at length they nailed Him to a cross because He had upset their selfish, secure, smug way of life. Not only was Jesus a missionary, but He pledged His followers to be missionaries, too!

Prayer for the day

Wherever I go, it is a mission field for You, Lord. Help me to be conscious of this, so that I may tell others the joyous message.

Nevertheless We Must Run Aground

Have you ever put heart and soul into something, prayed over it, worked at it with a good heart because you believed it to be what God wanted, and finally seen it "run aground"?

The story of Paul's voyage as a prisoner across the Adriatic Seas tells how an angel stood beside him and told him not to be afraid (in spite of winds of hurricane force), for God would spare his life and the lives of all with him on board ship. Paul cheered his guards and fellow passengers with that word, but added, "Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island" (Acts 27:26, NIV).

It would seem that the God who promises to spare all hands might have "done the job right, " saved the ship as well, and spared them from the ignominy of having to make it to land on the flotsam and jetsam that was left. The fact is He did not, nor does He always spare us.

Heaven is not here, it's There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.

"Running aground," then, is not the end of the world. But it helps to make the world a bit less appealing. It may even be God's answer to "Lead us not into temptation" - the temptation to complacently to settle for visible things.

Providence

God is deeply involved in our lives. He is constantly working around us to bring us closer to Him and glorify His name. Your life is important and the hand of God is always with you. Have confidence that no matter the circumstance, the Lord is leading you through this present moment for your good. 

Application: 

1. Think through pivotal moments in your life where you can see that Hand of God was at work in your life bringing you closer to Him.  

2. How is God at work in your life now?

3. Dwell on these verses: Romans 8:28, Ephesians 1:11, and 1 Thess. 5:18

Thank You Lord

Early mornings are a wonderful time for reflective thought. In the busyness of the week, these moments of clarity allow one to step back and think about all the blessings to be grateful for. 

Why do our hearts always long for more? Why do we believe the lie that the next relationship, promotion, or vacation will bring us the peace we long for. News flash: our hearts will always desire more because our hearts long for the peace that only Christ can give us. 

Application:

1. Write down what the world would tell you, will bring happiness. How does that differ with God's word?  

2. Write down all the blessings in your life and thank the Lord for each. 

3. Reflect on this verse: “Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26-26).

 

 

Love and Seek True Wisdom

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. (Proverbs 8:17)

Wisdom loves her lovers and seeks her seekers. He is already wise who seeks to be wise, and he has almost found wisdom who diligently seeks her. What is true of wisdom in general is specially true of wisdom embodied in our Lord Jesus. Him we are to love and to seek, and in return we shall enjoy His love and find Himself.

Our business is to seek Jesus early in life. Happy are the young whose morning is spent with Jesus! It is never too soon to seek the Lord Jesus. Early seekers make certain finders. We should seek Him early by diligence. Thriving tradesmen are early risers, and thriving saints seek Jesus eagerly. Those who find Jesus to their enrichment give their hearts to seeking Him. We must seek Him first, and thus earliest. Above all things Jesus. Jesus first and nothing else even as a bad second.

The blessing is that He will be found. He reveals Himself more and more clearly to our search.... Happy men who seek One who, when He is found, remains with them forever, a treasure growingly precious to their hearts and understandings.

Lord Jesus, I have found Thee; be found of me to an unutterable degree of joyous satisfaction.

Constructive Love

Today will be full of turmoil, for we are moving. Decisions to be made, complicated sorting and packing to be done, hard physical work, confusion and misunderstanding. I will be tempted to "manage" things which are not mine to manage, to be impatient and anxious and vindictive--I can see it coming! But there is a quiet, steadying power--the love of Christ, and "this love of which I speak is slow to lose patience, looks for a way of being constructive" (l Cor 13:4 JBP). It is not in me. That brand of love is not a part of my nature. So I simply ask for it. Lord, your love alone, at work in me, behaves like that.

Love through me, Love of God.
Make me like thy clear air
Through which, unhindered, colors pass
As if it were not there.
--(Amy Carmichael, Toward Jerusalem)

Exposing False Teachers

Matthew 7:15-20

New Testament writers warned about false teachings that sounded good but defied truth (2 Tim. 4:3; 1 John 4:1). Believers today must still heed these warnings! Ungodly leaders subtly twist truth with such conviction that unprepared Christians can be charmed by their lies. That’s why the Bible instructs us to evaluate the message of whoever desires to lead us (Matt. 7:20).

False teachers are deceptive. Verse 15 of today’s passage describes them as wolves in sheep’s clothing. They appear to want people to know the “real” truth about God, but their interpretation of Scripture may contain outright lies or a distorted mix of fact and error. Wise believers study God’s Word, so they can detect a “sheepskin” starting to slip. The wolves are further exposed by their personal lives, which won’t be consistent with righteousness (Matt. 7:16). A close study of their decisions, actions, and words will reveal that they do not follow the Lord’s will or biblical principles.

False teachers’ lives and messages are self-indulgent. Their enticing ideas appeal to their listeners’ fleshly nature. In fact, false teachers will often permit activities prohibited in Scripture. Some deceivers describe God’s grace as a license to live without restraint (Jude 1:4). Paul clearly denounces this lie, teaching that believers have died to sin and shouldn’t live in it (Rom. 6:1-2).

The body of Christ is expected to use Scripture as the standard against which to measure our leaders’ lifestyle and words. When we seek divine truth, we are given the discernment to differentiate between a holy message and a misleading one.

Depend on Him

I advise you to obey only the Holy Spirit's instructions. He will tell you where to go and what to do, and then you won't always be doing the wrong things your evil nature wants you to.
—Galatians 5:16 (TLB)

To walk in the Spirit is a challenging and inspiring exercise, for it combines activity with relaxation. To walk means to place one foot in front of the other. If you stop doing this, you are no longer walking-you are standing still. Walking always implies movement, progress, and direction. Sin shall no longer rule or dominate you when you are allowing the Holy Spirit to live Christ’s life through you. It is living by faith, living by trust, living in dependence upon God.

If we look to our own resources, our own strength, or our own ability, as Peter did when he walked on the water, we will fail. You cannot live the Christian life by yourself. The Holy Spirit must live in you and express Himself through you. Living for Christ is a day-by-day experience. It is a continuous dependence upon the Spirit of God. It is believing in His faithfulness.

Prayer for the Day

Lord, so often I have walked on my own instead of walking in Your Spirit. Guide my footsteps this day, I pray in Jesus' name.

Recapture The Wonder

Somewhere in the 1980s, I picked up this quote. I do not know who gave it to me or who the author is. But whoever penned it had profound insight:

In the 1950s kids lost their innocence. They were liberated from their parents by well-paying jobs, cars, and lyrics in music that gave rise to a new term–the generation gap.

In the 1960s, kids lost their authority. It was a decade of protest–church, state, and parents were all called into question and found wanting. Their authority was rejected, yet nothing ever replaced it.

In the 1970s, kids lost their love. It was the decade of me-ism dominated by hyphenated words beginning with self. Self-image, Self-esteem, Self-assertion... It made for a lonely world. Kids learned everything there was to know about sex and forgot everything there was to know about love, and no one had the nerve to tell them there was a difference.

In the 1980s, kids lost their hope. Stripped of innocence, authority, and love and plagued by the horror of a nuclear nightmare, large and growing numbers of this generation stopped believing in the future.

To bring it up to date, I have added two more paragraphs:

In the 1990s kids lost their power to reason. Less and less were they taught the very basics of language, truth, and logic and they grew up with the irrationality of a postmodern world.

In the new millennium, kids woke up and found out that somewhere in the midst of all this change, they had lost their imagination. Violence and perversion entertained them till none could talk of killing innocents since none was innocent anymore.

Now go back and look at the list and see the progression. If the word innocence can be replaced by the word wonder, then you see how the slide into despair began. Wonder has a direct bearing on hopelessness and evil. The loss of wonder sets the stage for evil, until truth itself dies at the altar of a desecrated imagination.

Excerpt from Recapture the Wonder by Ravi Zacharias.

C.S. Lewis: On Self

On self

The more we get what we now call “ourselves” out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. . . . I am not, in my natural state, nearly so much of a person as I like to believe: most of what I call “me” can be very easily explained. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His Personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.

From Mere Christianity
Compiled in Words to Live By