Ask anyone over the age of 25 and they would probably affirm that fads come and go quickly. Fashion fads are by far the most popular and quickly lived ones (have you been to Target lately? My 8th grade—1999—closet is haunting the clothing aisles. Chockers?? VELVET TOPS?). In Texas, the big summer fad was slime and fidget spinners. However, I would assume from the huge bin of fidget spinners 75% off at my local grocery store that they too will soon go the way of the gaucho pants. Bless. And all God’s women said “amen”.
Beliefs and worldviews also tend to go through trends, but with significantly longer lifespans than fashion and fidget spinners. Over the past decade a new—and much needed— desire has emerged among believers for a more real, more human, more authentic form of Christianity. We no longer want to just go through the motions at church and pretend as if everything is fine. We crave a community that has room for the good, the bad, the challenging, the ugly, the beautiful. As the world around us spins further toward the artificial, we crave the authentic.
Donna Gaines has graciously offered to give three of our readers one of her new books, Choose Wisely, Live Fully. See below for giveaway details. Three winners will be chosen on October 4. Be on the lookout on Instagram and Facebook for the announcement of the winners!
Here is how to enter:
Like Donna’s book on Instagram or Facebook.
Three winners will be chosen on October 4.
Then, be on the lookout on Instagram or Facebook for the announcement of the winners.
The first time I sat down at my laptop to gather my thoughts for this post, I typed the title, hit enter and then the computer screen FROZE! Actually, I found it comical, that I was attempting to gather words of encouragement for other women, and I was instantly up against a technical malfunction. Nevertheless, this was only a temporary delay of about 5 seconds until I could reboot the computer, instead of the 5 years of delayed motherhood I had experienced.
It was a Tuesday morning and I was sitting in our kitchen at our breakfast table. My children were playing in their rooms together nearby, my food was cold in front of me after an hour of trying to get a chance to eat it, my blue coffee mug was empty from attempts to caffeinate the earliest parts of the day, and now my toast was wet. My toast was soggy on my plate from the tears soaking into it, and it was a holy moment.
Tears are not an unusual thing in motherhood, but this morning was different. They weren’t tears of frustration or anger, tears of exhaustion or anxiety – I’ve had my fair share of those – but no, on this morning, they were tears of gratitude.
You’ve already heard hundreds of stories about Jesus, and you’ll continue to hear them as you grow up. I’m glad about this, but I know we become numb to familiar things. So I want you to remember this: No matter how regularly you hear about Jesus, don’t for a second think He’s regular. Common. Easy to predict. You see Him as a cartoon in your books, but He’s real, and everything He did made people’s jaws drop.
Did you know that one time Jesus flipped over tables at church and yelled at people? That’s not regular.
My baby girl is having a baby girl! I attended two baby showers for her this weekend. She was gifted with all things pink and we had a wonderful celebration. She and her husband have painted and set up furniture for a nursery and they have been given books and lots of advice. But there is no amount of training or reading of books that can prepare you for the first time they lay your baby in your arms.
I still struggle trying to describe what happened when they laid my first born in my arms. I looked up at my husband, and said, “I don’t know what we are going to do, but I can’t leave this baby.” I instantly knew that no one else could love him like I did. My heart had undergone a dramatic upheaval as this little boy had entered the world. All I could do was stare at him and marvel that he was our son.
If I could cup the face of sweet mommas, I’d tell them, “This secret is necessary for survival. You cannot mother well without it.” So, what is the secret?
As Bible studies and discipleship groups came to a close for the summer, I began asking God what He’d have me do in my time with Him over the next few months. I spent several days praying for His direction. I sensed Him saying to me, “Come closer. Dig deeper. Search for Me. Know Me.”
“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
I was already doing this. My time with Him had been fiery and steady. I wasn’t sleeping through alarms or dozing in my spot (well, not often anyway). To what exactly was He calling me?
“a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” Ecclesiastes 3:4
As I write this letter to you, you are beginning the first day of your new school year. I am about two months away from giving birth to my first biological baby. I say first biological baby, because all of you were my babies before I conceived this one. My baby girl will come into the world with around 40 older brothers and sisters that she might not ever get to meet. I had the privilege of teaching about 20 of you at a time over the last two years. I always knew that whenever I became a mom, I would stay home to raise my baby. What I didn’t know was how much I would miss you guys when I didn’t get to see you at school every day.
Have you ever felt your prayers went unanswered? Or maybe felt that somewhere between your heart and heaven, they got twisted around and the opposite became a reality? Maybe you stepped out in faith and boldly claimed one of His many promises for a loved one or a circumstance, only to have life rain down a series of gut-wrenching blows that leave you disillusioned or even angry.
Seven years ago, Jim Cymbala came to my church and spoke on prayer. At the time, I had an 8 month old daughter and was 8 weeks pregnant with my second. My heart was deeply moved that night and with complete faith I cried out to the Lord about specific aspects of my life, my marriage, and my family. I wanted change. I wanted what I know Scripture says He wants. The problems that came in the months and years following that benchmark night felt nothing less than a slap in the face. It was like my prayers were denied.
My daughter came into the world with her heart bent toward her Daddy.
As an infant, she tracked the sound of her Daddy’s voice and responded to his antics with infectious laughter. When she could walk, her feet followed his steps and kept her close to his side. When she could talk, my daughter’s focus on her Daddy became more evident, especially in the questions she asked.
My daughter’s toddler and preschool days were punctuated by questions like, “What is Daddy’s favorite color?” or “Do you think Daddy will like what I made?” It seemed that each day she awoke with fresh motivation to create something that would make her Daddy smile.
But by far, her most repeated question was, “When will Daddy be home?” Never truly satisfied with my answer, she adopted the afternoon habit of positioning herself in front of our living room window, face pressed to the glass, watching and waiting for the sight and sound of Daddy’s truck pulling into the driveway. When we moved to a house whose windows did not have a view of the driveway, she learned to identify her Daddy’s return by the sound of the garage doorknob turning. Hearing the distinctive “click”, she would shout to her little brother, “Daddy’s home!” and run to the top of the stairs, squealing and jumping with joy when her Daddy came through the door.