Friday, August 18, 2017

A Prayer to Give Us Courage

If you are here from Getting Real Ministries, here is a small prayer for you as you grow in study of God's Word. (If you want to see the article that prompted this prayer, head over to the GRM blog).

Heavenly Father,

Your Word, the Bible, is alive and active, mysterious and holy, and sometimes intimidating and scary. But we don't want to be afraid. We want to be courageous. 

Grant us, Lord, that we may become women who learn to love the Bible. 

May we become women who learn to study your Word. Show us how to turn a study of your Word into an adventure. Direct us to a book, a chapter or a verse where we should stay awhile. Prompt us forward when it's time to move on. And veer us off course when we need a different path.

Lead us and teach us, Lord.


Here are a few verses to help you understand what God has to say about His holy book:

Hebrews 4:12 - For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Psalm 119:105 - Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Isaiah 40:8 - The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.

Psalm 18:30 - As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord's word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Letting Grace Into Your Summertime

Oh my goodness, Summer! I love summertime. Fresh berries. Pools with the smell of suntan lotion. Lazy breakfasts. Evening little league games and catching fireflies at dusk.

Just as much as I love all of the above, I also need to accept the all that comes along with my summer time loves -- overtired children, sunburns, bug bites and sibling squabbles. Oh, the sibling squabbles...the struggle is VERY REAL around here!

I was going to write about our recent summer vacation to the beautiful mountains in Utah. Scratch that. Then I was going to write about the good fruit the spirit produces and how we need to take captive our thoughts so we can grow that great fruit...yada, yada, yada.

Those ideas are all great jumping off points for future blog posts but the truth is I’m too tired to write it all. My thoughts run around in a loop of ideas and run-ons but since summer is happening all around me, the time and energy to write everything down is few and far between.

All I really know is this: summer time brings lots of highs and lots of lows--and it's perfectly okay to live with both. 

I read this quote recently--on vacation, no less, which is exactly when I needed to read it:

"I fall into the trap of just wanting people to behave instead of loving them right where they are." 

(This is by Sophie Hudson, by the way, in her new book, Giddy Up, Eunice. She and her book, her blog and her podcast are hilarious.)

Ummm, that would be me. I work hard at getting everyone to behave correctly, to not whine, be grateful, cheer up, it will all be okay, and please, use your fork--not your fingers, that I forget that it's not all about outward behavior.

Yes, good manners are a good intention but sometimes it's okay to have all the feels, to melt down and give in to that cookie because it really will make everything better.

I'm not advocating lax parenting and giving in to all our feelings. Not at all. I am just saying that I need to work on acknowledging the feelings and giving grace and love to the feeler of said feelings.

So, for example, if everyone feels a bit tired because of an early morning flight, a time change and adjusting to dry-mountain air, it's perfectly okay to feel a bit cranky. I'm just saying if that did happen. Which it did. Very much so.

I don't know about you but I need the reminder that I don't need to fix them or the situation right away. Or, jump on anyone with admonitions or lectures. My reactions don't make the best lectures           anyway.

Sometimes you just have to ride the wave of crankiness, allow it to happen. Then wait for grace to take its place. Our best moments of growth, spiritual or character-building, happen when grace was allowed room to grow. And when grace is allowed room, love is always right behind. 

This summer, I'm learning grace comes in many different forms. It takes the shape of humor or a joke to make the situation feel lighter. It comes as hugs and hand-holding when someone is not acting very huggable. It comes as a tissue to wipe away tears as we make up silly stories to get our mind off our troubles.

The shape of grace I like the most is time. Time to allow the spirit to work, allowing feelings to rest and the real reasons to unfold. Because aren't feelings just the outward sign of something deep within anyway?

And the best way to deal with the feelings that run down deep is to allow time for the spirit to work. The spirit is the only one who knows and understands those feelings most intimately. A lot better than we do.

Later we can work on manners and kindness and forgiveness and all sorts of traits we want to see grow. But if grace and love don't happen first, somehow, everything else just ends up as a lecture. And lectures are a rocky soil that don't grow the fruit we're looking for. 

Trust me, I've learned this firsthand. I'm still learning it.

So, let's let summer happen. The good, the ugly and all the feelings in between. Let's remember that good outward behaviors aren't the only goal. And, most importantly, let's allow room for grace and love to happen.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Summer Thankfulness

Summer is fun and long and beautiful and weary for a mom. When needed, pack a lunch and meet friends at the park, stay for hours and take silly pictures.

In so many years from now, you'll look back on those pictures and marvel at how fast the time has gone, how grown the kids are and how you wish scooters at the park were all you needed to make a day great.

So thankful for good friends, fun park and scooters. What are you thankful for this summer? Comment below...I'd love to know!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Why We Need Sunday Mornings

So, I slept in a bit too late last Sunday morning. I'll spare you the number of times I hit my snooze button but let's say it was more than just two or three times. 

While hurrying to get myself ready, two out of my three darlings got into an argument of which I tried to referee but really all I did was lecture. 

Then I yelled all over the house for everyone to eat! Change! Brush your teeth or hair or whatever needs to be brushed! Let's go!

Basically, I rushed myself and everyone out the door and out to church. A pretty cranky way to start the day.

I sat in my Sunday School class that day wishing I had gotten up earlier and wishing I hadn't rushed everyone. When I get in this kind of funk---rehashing how I could have done things different and wondering why we even do this Sunday morning business week after week (when sometimes I just want to sleep in!!) -- it dawned on me:

All the things that happened this morning are not why we don't need to go to church on Sunday mornings, it's exactly why we do need to go.

         ~ We do need to go because we get cranky with each other. 

         ~ We do need to go because we love our sleep sometimes more than we love our church.

          ~ We do need to go because we rush and we rush and we rush.

Sunday mornings won't get better if we all decide to stay home. Sunday mornings won't be better if we all sleep in. And Sunday mornings won't be better if we all head to the Dunkin Donuts instead of a church building.

It might seem that way in the middle of the stress but my soul (and the little bit of wisdom I've gained over the years) tells me otherwise.

I may not always know what we need in this family. But I do know the one thing we need and it's found on Sunday mornings.

          ~ We do need to go because we find the support and love of our family there.

          ~ We do need to go because we can never stop learning enough about the Word and our God.

         ~ We do need to go because we need rest from our rushing. And only our Savior can provide          true rest from the rushing.

If you struggle with heading off to church on Sunday mornings, believing the lie that it would be easier to stay home instead, re-think it. Remind yourself of all the reasons you do need Sunday mornings. Your week ahead will thank you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Week Without Prayer Makes Us Crabs

Spring break is over and the kids and I are back in school, on the home-stretch to summer vacation. Yes! The break was nice and the rest well needed but during break, the kids and I became what we like to call 'snappy crabs'--our definition for being crabby and grumpy.

And guess who was the biggest snappy crab? Me, of course! I could sense it over break but couldn't seem to get any of us, especially me, out of our funk.

You know what was lacking over break?

~ Looking back it is easy to pinpoint--we were lacking prayer. ~

Those pinchers were out snapping because of one thing---no continual prayer. I didn't wake up and start my day with my usual routine of prayer for my kids. I didn't spend time at night with them in prayer or reading the Bible. Our dinners weren't always together so there weren't mealtime prayers. Yikes! We were out of zone and it showed!

I could blame the crabbiness on plenty of other things--late bedtimes, too much TV, not enough coffee. Those are all valid reasons in my book but I know in my heart the real reason was not enough prayer.

Prayer works. Spend a few days without it and you'll find your step is out of sync. Next thing you know your husband's on your last nerve, you're picking out all his faults and he's barely in the door from work. Those pinchers are out snapping now!

I know how hard it is to develop a prayer routine. And how much harder it is to maintain it. I feel your pain if you're stumbling around trying to fit in prayer among the millions of others things you do every day.

I don't have a magic prayer devotional that will change your prayer life in five easy steps. Or the next best book or study guide or website. I won't even go on and on about journaling your prayers or waking up just five minutes earlier every day--haven't we all heard it before, tried it before?

We all stumble with our prayer life. It happens. So when it does, start looking back. Start reflecting.

~ Become a noticer of your life and the lives of those whom you love. ~

How can the needs of those around you ignite you back into praying again? What do they need that only your prayers can answer? Has anything changed with you or them? Could the changes, the change in attitude, the change in behavior, the lack of love be because there's a lack of prayer?

Don't become hard on yourself and start feeling guilty. Just start noticing, start seeing with your heart what God is telling you needs prayers...maybe it' s your family, your job, your friend, your attitude. Get back on your knees and lift up those prayers. Then watch for the change. Keep an eye out for it. It will happen, I guarantee it.

I put away my pinchers the other day and replaced them with folded hands. My heart is softening again towards my family. I heard giggles coming from my daughters' shared bedroom and let me tell you, that's definitely a miracle! Just last week I thought we might need to pull out the tape and split the room in half just to gain some sanity and now we're laughing.

~ Prayer is necessary. ~

I need it. My family and friends need me to do it for them.  I'm betting you and your loved ones need it too. So get started. No delays, no excuses. And once you start, sit back and prepare to be amazed.

This post is also featured on Getting Real Ministries! Head on over!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Another Year Older

The family and I headed to a Wolves' hockey game a few weekends back. Free tickets, why not? It should be a fun family time I thought. That was before the spilled drink (a full one I just took out a loan to pay for), a pre game fireworks show so loud I had to take my sound sensitive child out of the arena because of fright and, of course, multiple on ice hockey fights that I just can't watch (sorry hockey fans but I just don't get it!).

In my head, I'm thinking this is a failed night, a zero on the family fun-o-meter. I turned to look at my eldest sitting next to me and she's smiling big, chattering away about this and that, nothing which has to do with hockey. She's the child I will always remember saying in her tiny preschool voice, "Mom, I just love being out and about with my family." That after a lame trip to Target to pick up extra diapers for her younger siblings. I must have bought her an icee or something. She just loves being out with her family, no matter what we're doing. Happiness to her soul right there.

Fast forward a few weeks and this precious girl is turning ten. How can that be? My heart flutters faster with thoughts of her growing up and out. When all I really want to do is keep her out and about with me, with us, her family. And I wonder, did I spend enough time with her today, her birthday? Or was I too concerned about cleaning up all the sprinkles rolling around on the counter after she lavished them all over her homemade birthday cake? Have I made sure she will knows we love being out and about with her as much as she loves being out with us?

This parenting gig is not for the weak at heart, especially around birthdays. On the outside we celebrate them growing bigger. We smile big for the camera and for the birthday kid. But on the the inside, there's an entirely different roller coaster going on. I don't want to stop the ride. Just would like it to slow down a bit. 

I guess my heart needs the reminder of birthdays, the reminder that time is moving fast but it slows down a bit when we're out and about with each other, doing our family thing, spilled drinks and all. I'm learning to savor our time together a bit more and a bit better each year. 

Growing older is part of the plan and I love watching the growth, savoring the tiny moments together that add up to memories. Let's continue to be together with the ones we love, doing the thing that makes them feel loved, enjoying each moment of it. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Greatest Love Note

I'm over the moon excited to be featured on (in)courage today sharing a story inspired by my sweet daughter and her even sweeter note to me. Here's a little sneak peak:

My kids and I love writing little notes to each other. We write on post-its, scraps of paper, even the backs of church bulletins, any paper we can find, just to give each other a little love and a smile. 

It's not uncommon to find these notes hidden in lunch boxes or under bedroom pillows for added surprise. We just love a good love note!

Our notes are nothing fancy. They simply state 'I love you' or 'You are awesome' accompanied by quick drawings or silly stickers. 

These notes always give us a smile in the moment but recently, the words in a note I received from my eight year old daughter lasted longer than a moment. They went straight to my heart and claimed a place in my soul. The note said: I love you for how you are. I love you because you are you.

Head on over to (in)courage to read the rest of the story. While you're there, sign up to receive free daily encouragement from the writers of (in)courage, right in your inbox! Just sign up here:

(In)courage is one of my favorite places on the web. I know you'll enjoy it too!
© Katie Landers
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