Thrive: New Year 2018 (Day Twenty-Two)

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a-new-year-thriveWell.

It’s 2018.

It’s the year my firstborn child will leave home. Today, she turns 18 years old.

And lemme tell you, if turning 45 doesn’t make a girl feel old, 18 candles on the cake of your child —will. I started this blog when she was 8, and if you remember that, you probably feel old too now.

Her senior year has been a sweet one and I’ve become a walking fortune cookie of All The Things I don’t want to forget to tell her. It feels like I’m trying to give her a crash course in everything.

A few nights ago we both dissolved into a puddle of tears as our conversation turned from dorm room to missing her brother and sister. So, yes, we are handling it well.

We’ve talked a lot about purpose. I think it’s a hot word for this generation and it’s been a focus for our family for as long as I can remember. But it’s also easy to feel pressure and panic when you aren’t quite sure what you were created to do.

Here’s my advice for her (and you) and a reminder for the rest of us: If you’re not sure of your purpose, follow your passion. It will lead you to the right place.

When I found my sweet spot–that place where our passion, what we’re good at (our skill) and God’s timing collide, it was divine.  I love how my dear friend, Ann Voskamp puts it, “You were made for the place where your real passion meets compassion, because there lies your real purpose.”

Saying yes to our purpose is more about courage and faith than opportunity and success. I don’t think we always recognize our God-sized dream for what it is, especially when it’s wrapped up in our normalcy.

My sweet spot wasn’t exactly a success story. I think we often confuse glory with something glorious. Nothing really changed, not for a long time. But I had changed. I was pursing my passion. I was living authentic. I was satisfied and that changed everything.

I discovered that one thing we are called to do—our purpose—is really secondary. It’s only found after we pursue the primary, the ultimate goal of our lives which is to bring glory to God. This is our foundational, primary mission and purpose for living. It is what we were created for. Isaiah 43:6-7 says, “We were made by God for His glory.”

There aren’t two paths we’ve been given—one for us to pursue our dreams, the other to serve God. When we divide our lives up into those compartments, we work for our glory not His. But when our lives flow with the central purpose of shining His light, it gives us to deep satisfaction and contentment, and leads us directly to the secondary. I have found John Piper’s statement to be true: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

Our primary job is to have a relationship with Jesus. It’s the only way to discover the contentment in life we all crave. And when we focus on intimacy with God, He provides the right timing, couples it with our hard work and skills, and passion is born.

So, my dear 18 year old girl– believe this truth: where you are today is the place He has put you and who you are is how He created you and what you’re good at is a gift. Follow your passion and whatever you find yourself doing—being a student, chasing a career, becoming a wife or mother one day, pursuing your passion—do it unto God. And your purpose will collide with your passion and you will thrive.

Kristen Welch

Wife, Mom, Author, Blogger of “We Are That Family”, Speaker

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(Originally Posted Here: http://wearethatfamily.com/2018/01/youre-not-sure-purpose-follow-passion/)

New Year: Thrive (Day Twenty-One)

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a-new-year-thriveThe heart is such an important organ in our body.  It not only pumps blood through our body to help us live, but it also is the proverbial center of our emotions.  There are so many verses in God’s word that describe the condition of the heart – broken, hard, whole, pure, caring, soft, joyful, troubled, grateful – and so many more.

As I have thought about what to write, I wanted to talk about having a grateful heart.

Looking back over this past year, my heart has been many things – troubled, caring, joyful and grateful to list a few.  Being involved with missions at Taylors Valley Baptist Church, I can truly say “my heart is grateful” for the fellowship of our body of believers.

I sometimes feel like I’m always asking you to do something, spend something, or pray for something, and I can honestly say you have NEVER let God or me down. Whether it’s for our yearly Honduras Mission Trip, Backpack Buddies, scholarships for summer camps, our mission offerings or Operation Christmas Child, you have always gone above and beyond.  

My prayer for 2018 is to have servant heart for what God will use me for in His Kingdom.

What is your prayer for the year? Where is your heart today and for this new year?

Be ready for what God will put on your heart in order others might know Him and those who know Him may know Him better.

So, it is with a grateful heart that I look forward to what we as a church body will do to help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.  

May God’s grace, mercy, and peace be yours this year.

Dianne Arwood

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New Year: Thrive (Day Twenty)

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“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

Raising daughters afforded me many opportunities to train my girls to be brave, bold, independent, strong, responsible women. As I continue in this daily investment, I’ve realized that my early motherhood was missing a key ingredient:

I had forgotten to teach my girls the value of rest and the gift of help.

For two years, I struggled with a chronic illness that required weekly medical intervention. This affected my energy, strength and motherhood. I didn’t tell my children the truth about my physical trials. I preserved my brave exterior, but I was unable to do all the things I once did, and motherhood took a necessary backseat to rest and healing.

I was tired and weak, and everything I did for my family had to be put on hold. This wrecked me to the core. I felt like I was abandoning my post.

I experienced feelings of guilt and anger over the things that made me feel weary and incapable. My children deserved to know, because I needed their help, and God wanted to use this. I was getting in the way of receiving His Grace and their help and understanding.

When our kids see us put on brave faces and give more to everyone around us while barely holding on to our sanity and strength, they see women without boundaries, void of peace. Motherhood does not have to be drudgery or a source of pride, where we carry the banner of independence and espouse a false message of “doing it all.” When we’re honest and truthful about our circumstances, we allow an infusion of hope and help into our world.

The weakest moments in motherhood can be the catalyst for my children to seek God’s strength and see His power. When we keep our needs hidden from our children, how will they know our true source of strength? We need to introduce them to the true Redeemer in all our pain and weakness. I came to realize these questions deserved answers:

  • If our children can’t see God at work in their own homes, how will they learn to lean on Him when they leave our safe spaces?
  • If our children don’t serve one another and bear burdens of those closest to them, how will they live out this biblical principle later in life?
  • If our children haven’t seen our reliance on God, will they grow up to be overwhelmed adults, forgetting Who can rescue them from their lowest moments?
  • If we pretend to have it all together, how will our children know Who really holds us together?

If there’s one thing I would have changed in my motherhood, it would be this — I would have shared my weaknesses and asked for help. I would have been honest with my kids when I was worn thin and could barely hang on.

Just as the Lord instructed the Apostle Paul, He reminds us in today’s key verse how God’s power comes alive in our weakness: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

We never want our children to see us as “strong women” who don’t need anyone or anything, while we fall apart at the seams in our private spaces. A truly strong, grace-filled woman loves Jesus more than her pride and invites others to be a part of her journey. Everyday motherhood requires daily prayer and an urgency to know God more. This is the gift you will pass on to your children daily.

Mothers, let your children see you need Jesus!

Lord, I’m tired and weary, and I feel alone. Grant me discernment and guidance. Will You help me be real, and send others into my life who can walk through this with me? I need this now more than ever. I know Your grace is sufficient, Lord. I believe this. You are my Redeemer and I trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

September McCarthy

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Wife, Mother, Blogger, Speaker

(Originally Posted Here: https://proverbs31.org/read/devotions/full-post/2017/10/25/a-tired-mom-can-be-the-most-influential)

New Year: Thrive (Day Nineteen)

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a-new-year-thriveI have struggled with anxiety for many years. Even as a child, being the oldest I
would be anxious about not behaving and making sure my sisters behaved as
well. I would even worry for my sisters when they didn’t obey because I didn’t
want them or myself to get into trouble.

As I grew older I would worry about grades, making friends, interacting with others or doing something new and different. As a missionaries daughter you would think that I should not have this problem because I had to deal with new things all of the time and had heard the teachings from the Bible about God taking care of all our needs as I grew.

I have learned however our spiritual journey does not depend on if you go to
church or grow up hearing the Bible. It comes from actually having a relationship
with God and following what He has told us in the Bible. When I reflect on those
days, I can see how I was anxious and my confidence often dependent upon those around me.

When I was married to my first husband, I began to depend on him for my confidence. I was continuing this cycle of depending on others for my confidence and not on God. After my divorce, I began to go back to church regularly and spiritually progress. As I had to learn to live alone and raise my children and naturally, I began to depend more on God. I had to be more confident in myself and believe that God was going to take care of me.

This anxiety problem, however, was still present in my life. It seemed like I continuously would be giving God control and then, forgetting He was in control, I would worry over money, situations, school, or work.
Then God brought Rudy into my life. I began to see in a tangible way that God has a
plan for my life and He is going to have that plan fulfilled one way or another. I could see God cares for me in a personal way and wants me to have a closer relationship with Him by constantly coming to Him in prayer.

This growth with God has been slow, but this past year, God brought to my heart and mind the scripture Proverbs 3:5-6 in a way that made me realize that I had not actually believed or trusted His word as these verses require, because I keep worrying over issues. I realized when I read these verses He was saying He is my Lord and Savior and wants my obedience. He desires for me to give Him control of all parts of my life. By obeying Him and trusting in Him to take care of everything, even if it is something small, I can be at peace because I know that He will take care of me no matter what happens.

This has been what I have been working on this past year, and it has brought me closer to God. The peace in my heart has increased.

So now when I feel that anxious feeling in my stomach, I immediately begin to pray and ask God to take control and to guide me in the steps I need to take.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Danea Partida

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New Year: Thrive (Day Eighteen)

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a-new-year-thriveI can’t remember the last time I read a book from start to finish, but yesterday I did. Last night, bundled under a blanket and heating pad (I just couldn’t get warm), I read the last page and then closed the book. The hard cover and book back felt so good between my hands, every word between now my arsenal.

There’s something about January that makes us want to eat better, do better, live better. This book I finished, Present Over Perfect, was the reminder I needed that life can be more full when we rid ourselves of the unnecessary. People-pleasing and ceaseless hustling, the author Niequist suggests, can get in the way of joyful, purposeful life. I’m guilty of both people-pleasing and hustling, something I intend to change.

Along with getting up at a decent hour and starting laundry, it was my goal to immediately practice simpler living. So after sorting mounds of clothes and starting a load this morning, I threw together ingredients for a hearty soup we’d have for supper. I gave myself an imaginary check mark for following the meal calendar that hung on the fridge.

I quickly (something close to a hustle) assembled a lunch salad for Jason and pulled my hair back in a ponytail. Grabbing the first pair of jeans that came out of the dryer I got dressed. My youngest, Rylie, and I would spend the afternoon together.

We found a coat that fit her nicely and we both liked it. I gave myself another check mark (clothes agreement tends to be anything but simple). I even let her sit in a rolling chair with lilac cushions that invitingly sat in the middle of TJ Maxx. I was patient…not at all hustle-y.

I was so patient and lacks i daisical that I suggested we find a place in the mall to get her hair cut (She was in desperate need). Again we were in agreement. At this point I gave myself fireworks instead of checkmarks, because this mom and daughter date was booming.

We had no wait. A sweet lady that reminded me of my older daughter Hallie’s friend, took Rylie straight back and washed her hair. I sat directly across from the stylist chair, ready to watch the simple transformation, from messy ponytail to a shorter, smoother “do”.

We were having a great conversation about Christmas and good eating places when three employees (two girls and a guy) walked past us and into the workroom two chairs down and to the left.

Their conversation, which was much louder than ours, turned downright vulgar in a matter of moments. In patient mode I waited for the conversation to turn, or get quieter, but neither happened. My face burned with embarrassment and my heart twisted in agitation. My twelve-year-old daughter was hearing cringe-y information that she could live a lifetime without.

Just when I gained the courage to get up and go peek my head in and request that they turn their X-rated sex talk down a few decibels, one of them closed the door.

I sunk in my chair. The situation had been diffused, but not by any good choice of mine. Every checkmark and firework I’d accrued rained down in my head like ash. I hadn’t had the courage to do what was needed.

Though I refrained from hustling today, my need to people please rose above my parental duty. I don’t protect my kids from everything. They’re going to encounter unsavory behavior from time to time. The difference is, today I knew in my heart that it was in my power, and it was my God-appointed purpose to speak up, and I didn’t.

I was afraid of causing a scene. I feared I’d embarrass my kid. I felt sure that my efforts would be neither appreciated or understood. I also had little confidence that my words would change their behavior (They’d already walked by and saw us there).

In my effort to refrain from trouble-making, I’d silently pleased everyone in the salon except for the loud voice in my head urging me to do the hard thing, the right thing.

Fear of being misunderstood or offending, it seems, is more important than offending my God.

So hustling? I know what that looks like. I need less of it. I’ll continue to practice a slower rhythm again tomorrow just like I did today.

People pleasing? I saw that as large as life in a salon mirror today bearing my image. I was reminded what it looks like with my daughter looking on. Rylie received a simple transformation today. It looks like mine will prove to be a little more complicated.

just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 2:4

Kristi Burden

Wife, Mom, Pastor’s Wife, and Blogger at GodsGirlies.com

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(Originally Posted Here: https://godsgirlies.com/?p=11615#comments)

New Year: Thrive (Day Seventeen)

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a-new-year-thriveFear is something I struggle with…fear of change, fear of new adventures, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, and fear of not being good enough.  

Fear grips us and doesn’t let us move. It renders us incapable to feel, to think, to follow God’s plan for your life…if you let it.

I often find myself asking if I am hearing God’s plan for me right as fear sets in. But then I am offered the beautiful reminder in Jeremiah 29:11,

“For I know the plans I have for you,  declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a hope and a future.”  

His plans are far bigger than mine and I am honored to be used where he sees fit even if that means I have to face my fears. I cling to the promise in Isaiah 41:10,

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  

Where I go I am not alone if I am walking in God’s word!  

Picture that!  

So as I face the New Year I am going to, “Trust the Lord with all of my heart and lean not on my own understanding” (Psalms 3:5). His plans are perfect and He will be with me to strengthen me in times of fear while I live life according to His plans.  

Let’s conquer fear together in 2018!

Nicole Euting

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New Year: Thrive (Day Sixteen)

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a-new-year-thriveToday at worship I sat in the next to the last row of our worship center, which meant that I was surrounded by young families on three sides. As a sixty-three year old my days of corralling a small child during a worship service are in my rear view mirror. Actually, they are in my wife’s rear view mirror, because as a pastor, I was always on the podium or in the pulpit during this time of struggle. She carries the battle scars of those difficult days, but I digress.

These young couples did a masterful job of working with their children. Yes, there was some noise. Yes, they had to go out with a child once (okay, maybe twice). But, they were doing something very important. They were teaching their children how very important worship is. Worship is so important that Mom and Dad don’t go to soccer games (or other places) on the Lord’s Day, but to church. Worship is so important that Mom and Dad pick up hymnals and sing songs of praise to God. Worship is so important that Mom and Dad confess their sins. Worship is so important that Mom and Dad pick up their Bibles and read along as God’s Word is read. Worship is so important that Mom and Dad put their tithe and offerings into the offering plate when it is passed. Worship is so important that Mom and Dad close their eyes and pray at the proper time (okay, maybe they peak to make sure no one escapes, but they work at it). Worship is so important that Mom and Dad are quiet and listen to the pastor open up God’s Word. Worship is so important that Mom and Dad do this Sunday after Sunday, month after month, year after year, and that lesson is not lost on a child no matter how small. It is a lesson that can never be learned in a children’s church or youth service. It can only be learned up close and personal by observing Mom and Dad on God’s day in God’s house.

Is it easy? No, but it is important. It is called parenting, and it is one of the most important things that we will ever do. So to all of those young families who are afraid that they are bothering the old guy with a gray beard and thinning, gray hair I say, “Thank you. Thank you for loving your children enough to accept the responsibility to teach them about the importance of gathering with God’s people and worshiping Him. And, by the way, I heard the sermon from 1 Peter about loving those around us with the overflow of God’s love, because of the foundation of God’s love, and the nature of God’s love. You didn’t bother me a bit. I heard every word.”

May the Lord bless the faithfulness of young parents!

Clifton Rankin

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Retired Pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Beaumont, Texas.

(Originally Posted Here: https://cliftonr.wordpress.com/2018/01/14/let-the-little-children-come-to-me/)