Changing My Image of Prayer

When I was a little girl if I was in trouble, I often heard the phrase,

“Wait until your father comes home.”

Because I heard this phrase continually, I would withdraw and hide from my Dad.

By projecting the image I had of my own father I learned to see God as someone who was mostly angry with me and waiting to get me.

I realize even now at times, I hide from God when I am afraid, or think he won’t accept me or forgive me.

I built a false image of God in my heart that keeps me from praying.

Once I released that image, I learned I could come to God as the writer of Hebrews tells us to—“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God” (Heb. 4:16 NLT).

Albert Haase says in his book, Living the Lord’s Prayer,

“Our image of God is one of the most, if not the most important aspects of our spiritual formation. Our God image shapes and colors everything about our personal spirituality, from why we pray to how we understand personal suffering and evil in the world.” (click to tweet)

Maybe you too have created a false image of God that keeps you from the rich intimacy of prayer with God. Look at this list and circle any false image of God you realize you’ve adopted.

Arbitrary dictator

Divine traffic cop

Chess master

Puppeteer

Divine trickster

Warden

Tyrant

Controller

Now that we’ve identified our false images of God, how can we be free of that image so we can enter into communion and prayer with God?

The answer might surprise you.

Pray!

To correct the false image of God we have constructed in our minds we need to pray the truth over the falsehoods. (click to tweet)

The Bible has treasures of promises of the true image of God. Once you start digging to find them and praying these verses, it will begin to shape a new image of God in you and change the way you pray.

Since today is the National Day of Prayer, I thought I would share the above excerpt from a new book  that I wrote with my cousin Andrea Tomassi

Live Bold: A Devotional Journal to Strengthen Your Soul.

The book is divided into 12 themes that encourage the reader to live bold daily for Jesus Christ. It is a 52 week devotional that focuses on a theme and includes an action step for the week and a bible verse related to the theme to meditate on throughout the week. We also have a Facebook Community Live Bold Series and for the month of May our theme is prayer. Please consider joining us as we focus on prayer this month and learn to pray bold prayers for Jesus!

To learn more about the Live Bold Community go to www.livingbold.org

Live Bold is available on May 15th and available now for pre-order

Copyright ©2018 all rights reserved

Finding Questions to Help in Loss and Grief

I’ve been swimming in grief of losing my Mom and trying to carry on my daily responsibilities.

There isn’t always space to stop and reflect because lately my schedule has been full. I know I have to let grief have it’s way and not ignore what’s happening in my heart despite the busyness. I wanted a place to write down the deeper questions I am grappling with right now.

I created a page in my bullet journal entitled, questions to ponder and reflection. I am trying to capture the moments of God whispering to me in the pain as I am walking this new path.

Some of the sweet end of the bitter this year has been traveling with one of the sponsors, Redemption Press at the Women of Joy Tour. I am smack dab in the midst of having the opportunity to hear godly teachers and participate in rich worship while working at a job I love!

Bible teachers such as Lisa Harper, Sheila Walsh, Ann Voskamp, Babbie Mason, and others have been speaking truth into my fragile soul. The truth is a healing balm to my soul and God has met me in the promise of Psalm 34:18, that he is, “close to those who are broken-hearted and saves those crushed in spirit.”

This past Friday, in Branson, surrounded by 4200 worshipping women, we sang, It is Well with My Soul.

I said, “God I can’t do this, I am in the front row.”

This song has been a generational favorite of my grandmother’s and my Mom’s. I did what any woman does with roller coaster emotions.

I gallantly bowed my head and let the tears flow as I sang the phrase over and over again,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

Why? Because it is.

God meets us in our brokenness.

God comes to us in our hurting places.

God waits to embrace the mess and reassures us with his overwhelming love.

God met me in those five minutes of worship and rescued me.

He reached down in my lonely grief and gave me his outrageous grace of healing.

I realize I won’t always be in this space and I know I don’t have to have all the answers, but I can think about the questions that God puts before me.

Questions such as,

Am I motivated by my pain or passion to serve God? (Sheila Walsh)

Do I recognize my need for God in my desperation? (Lisa Harper)

Can I fathom that Jesus prays for me? (Babbie Mason)

If Christ bears scars, how can I despise my scars? (Ann Voskamp)

Grief softens the soil of our heart to receive truth in ways we might not have invited in the past. (Click to tweet)

I am recording my list of questions and thoughts asking God to speak to these questions in the loss.

What are you facing?

Do you have questions of truth that God is whispering to your wounded soul?

Write them down and make them a part of your conversation with God. He is waiting like the best friend you’ve ever had to give you comfort and peace in your storm.

 

 

Learn how you too can be anchored in the storm. www.cynthiacavanaugh.com/anchored

Making Grief Your Friend

I boarded a plane two days after I learned my mother graduated to heaven.

I had an assignment.

For months, two monumental events were planned that took place this past week. Anchored: Leading Through the Storms was released with a book party at our local bookstore. The Women Of Joy Tour started, and I was heading to Tennessee where my cousin Andrea and I were featured authors with Redemption Press for our new devotional Live Bold, which was also making its debut.

The day after I received the news my Mom had passed, I wondered how I would garner the strength to finish the week. I was already hanging on by a thread. I was emotionally spent and had many restless nights anticipating the news of my Mom’s death. I know God doesn’t make mistakes and it is no accident that all these events converged.

I decided to forge ahead with the plans not because I was ignoring the grief in my heart or trying to be a super saint, but because I believed with everything I am that God was in the center of this storm.

It wasn’t a surprise. He knew before it even took place.

I believe he wasn’t inviting me to lie down in the boat. Rather, he was asking me to trust him with my fragile heart and hang onto the boat’s wheel, and he would help me navigate the wind and the waves of grief.

I chose to go into the weekend with grief as my companion and friend.

My greatest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to contain my emotions and it would impair my ability to function.

I sensed God whispering to me to surrender my roller coaster emotions and trust him. I wrestled with the many what if’s and doubts.

Gently, he reassured me this was his plan, and he would uphold me with his right hand. The songs my Mom loved such as the old hymns, In the Garden and It is Well with My Soul, flooded my mind as the weekend approached.

They gave me comfort and Psalm 11:15, Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants was like a warm blanket covering my soul.

The day we left I woke up with a renewed sense of strength. I felt carried close in God’s arms, and I was able to choose joy in the midst of my grief.

I allowed grief to become my friend by not shutting it out.

Grief met me in the songs the worship leader, Babbie Mason sang and reminded me that my Mom is praising Jesus and is whole and free.

Grief led me to see the truth in God’s word as the speakers spoke the truth that Jesus prays for me, loves me, and extends mercy and grace in the midst of grief.

Grief extended love to me through the prayers of strangers and kind words from new friends.

Grief allowed me to empathize and enter into other’s pain and pray for healing and restoration.

Grief leads me to Jesus because he understands every runaway emotion I experience and allows me the space to rest even when I can’t make sense of my thoughts and feelings. (click to tweet)

Grief encourages me to claim Jesus as my anchor because he understands what I can’t fully understand.

I am holding on to everything I know to be true about my God because he is the best captain of the boat in the storm of grief.

Find out more about being anchored in the storm. www.cynthiacavanaugh.com/anchored

The Joy and Sadness of Writing

I’ve been a writer since I was in 3rd grade and wrote my first book Irene and the Big Balloon. I even illustrated it myself. It was a single copy meant to engage an exclusive audience of two…my parents!

They fostered the creativity by buying me a red gold leaf edged diary with a lock and key. I would wander off to my secret place on the side of the wooded hill in the back of our house and write. I dreamed of writing a book someday that would go beyond the confines of my little world to impact others.

I am incredibly grateful that this dream has been realized more than once Anchored: Leading Through the Storms is being released today. It is an exciting time planned with a book launch at my local bookstore and other events over the next weeks and months.

And yet the excitement is mingled with a sense of sadness.

My Mom is moments away from entering into heaven and today is possibly the day.

God isn’t surprised and he knew the contents of this book and the converging of these events.

A few months back when we first learned of my Mom’s cancer, I was rereading the first few chapters of the book before I went to sleep. The tears rolled down my cheeks as God encouraged me through the story of the disciples on the lake with Jesus in Mark 4. I might add, IN MY OWN BOOK!

That’s what happens sometimes, as an author. You write a book not just for an audience of readers, but write it for yourself because it is a part of the big picture story that God is writing in you and me.

I said goodbye to my Mom a little over 10 days ago. I had the chance to read her a few chapters and she encouraged me just as she did in the 3rd grade.

“This is really good, and I can tell it comes from the heart.”

Her words meant everything to me in that moment. I read to her the story of Job and the anchors he placed in his life before his catastrophic storm hit when he lost everything. The anchors held him steadfast as he walked through a valley of immense suffering.

My Mom, like Job has cultivated her strong anchors to face the storm of this insidious illness. She confessed in her suffering that she knows God is present and holding her close. She sang with us her favorites in her weak condition holding onto her assurance of hope that she will soon be pain-free and with her Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

I am grateful for the legacy of faith my Mom taught me, that even now as we let her go, I find myself anchored in Jesus in this difficult storm of loss.

One anchor I am holding onto is…

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. 2 Peter 1:3  (click to tweet)

This is what I hope the reader will find between the pages of my new book. Hope and encouragement from God’s Word and anchors to help  stand strong in the midst of a storm.

Find out more about being anchored in the storm.

www.cynthiacavanaugh.com/anchored

Special Purchase on PUB DAY WEEK

https://www.newhopepublishers.com/shop/anchored/

 

 

 

A Checklist to Take Care of Yourself in a Storm

Storms can knock the stuffing out of us.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about Elijah and the storm he faced on Mount Carmel in I Kings 18. He came to the end of himself after his great victory when the prophets of Baal were defeated. After that event he found himself running for his life from Queen Jezebel. She was determined to have his head after he killed all of her idolatrous prophets.

After running for his life, Elijah sat under a tree, ready to die. His exhaustion caused him to forget the faithfulness of God. He was cranky, tired, and hungry and he worried about Jezebel coming to get him. So God sent an angel with some food to restore him. The state of his soul was in disrepair, and he needed to sleep, eat, and get some perspective so he could start trusting God again and stop worrying.

Elijah was just plain tuckered out and wanted to be all by himself. Maybe that’s why he left his servant. He wanted to be miserable all alone. He had been working day and night for God, and all the emotional energy he gave at Mount Carmel defeating the prophets of Baal did him in.

The words of Queen Jezebel elicited fear and doubt, and he decided to tell God he had enough. You notice the Lord didn’t respond to his lament and request to end his life. Instead, God sent him something to eat to strengthen him. Not once but twice in between Elijah’s naps. When the storm takes more than we bargain for, God knows what we need.

He doesn’t beat us up and whip us to get back out and serve. “He knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust” (Psalm 103:14 NLT).

Sometimes to gain a fresh perspective in our lives is to do as Elijah did.

Take a nap.

Eat something.

In other words, take care of ourselves.

God probably chose not to answer Elijah because He knew he was at the end of his reserves, and no amount of convincing would stop his whining until he got some rest.

This holds true especially when we are battling the wind and waves in a storm. We have to recognize when we are at the end and pay attention to our warning signs of being completely done.

When Kevin and I were in the darkest part of our storm, the one statement my counselor and those I was accountable to asked me over and over again, “What was I doing to take care of myself?” I was so caught up in trying to withstand the battering waves that I would forget what taking care of myself even looked like because I was so emotionally exhausted.

I don’t think it has to be all that complicated. We can use this story of Elijah as a basis for creating a checklist of what we should do when we find ourselves on the edge of having a meltdown and being done.

  • Don’t leave your friends behind. Though we don’t know the reason Elijah left his servant behind, it’s never a good idea to isolate ourselves when we are in a storm.
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously when you are empty. ?When you are tired and have pushed yourself past the point of no return, you can’t take yourself too seriously. Your emotions can run away, causing you to worry, fear, and have a pity party. Bundle it up, speak it out, and then let it go.
  • Take a nap! ?Yes, you heard me. When we are sleep deprived nothing works well. We have to make space in our lives for our bodies and our minds to restore.
  • Nourish yourself. ?When I am stressed out to the max—I know this will sound weird—I forget to eat. When I remember, or ?my stomach reminds me, I don’t always choose the best foods. I am working on it even as I am walking through some stressful days the past month.

Seems fairly basic, doesn’t it? Sometimes we make the idea of recharging too complicated. We think we have to run to another country, sit on a beach, and do nothing for two weeks. I am not trying to be too simplistic here, but I believe much of our exhaustion could be thwarted if we paid more attention to our soul and what it is saying to us. Our physical bodies and our emotional and mental states are all connected, and we would be wise to listen.

Once we have gone through the checklist, we then can discover what the voice deep inside of us is trying to communicate and put ourselves in a better place.

Excerpt taken from: Anchored: Leading Through the Storms

All rights reserved. Copyright 2018

Find out more about being anchored in the storm. www.cynthiacavanaugh.com/anchored/

TWEETABLES:

When we are battling the wind and waves in a storm, we need to recognize when we are at the end and pay attention to the warning signs of being completely done.

I was so caught up in trying to withstand the battering waves that I would forget what taking care of myself even looked like because I was so emotionally exhausted.

Don’t leave your friends behind.

Sometimes we make the idea of recharging too complicated.

 

 

When You Have to Wait in a Storm

The word wait has been interrupting my world lately.

In South Carolina last month, I had to wait several hours in an airport because I was one of the hundreds of others caught in a snowstorm and stranded.

I had a stack of boarding passes from being rebooked several times. I nearly sat down and cried at one point because I was weary and wanted to get home. It took two days to make it back home. Fortunately, my good friend Edie, graciously drove an hour and half  to pick me up to spend the night and wait until I could fly back home.

Since then I’ve waited for…

The news from family regarding the health of a parent,

Approval for a massive project I’ve been working on,

The weather to change at the airport last week due to another snowstorm when I was visiting my children,

And nearly 30 minutes waiting on the phone to solve a mix-up online order.

Waiting is a part of life, and yet we despise waiting in our culture.

It sabotages our plans.

It threatens to submerge our joy when we have to wait longer than 5 minutes in a drive-through for our coffee.

We are spoiled and impatient because we don’t like to wait for anything.

We need answers today and solutions immediately.

Unwillingness to wait breeds an anxious heart, especially when we are facing a storm. Uneasiness sets in and paralyzes our hope when we can’t have the answers we need to move ahead. Honestly, I hate to wait, and God brought this to my attention again this morning as I read these verses.

I pray to God-my life a prayer-and wait for what he’ll say and do. My life’s on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning. Psalm 130:5,6 (Message)

I’ve noticed in the Bible that when God repeats himself, it’s like putting a stop sign in the middle of the highway for us to pay attention and wait because we are moving too fast. Waiting and watching till morning is repeated for a purpose. To slow down and not just practice waiting, but also to watch.

The two storms I encountered at the airports caused me to wait and watch. I had no control. I couldn’t make anything move faster. I was forced to wait and watch until something changed so I could get to my destination.

Snowstorms are unpredictable, and they also change radically bringing the unexpected. Storms in life are also uncertain, and they cause us to wait and watch, wait and watch.

We can’t watch for anything if we don’t stop to wait. To slow down and settle into the wait can heighten our anticipation and watch for the answer. Being still and waiting sets us up to watch for God to reveal his will in our situation.

One of my granddaughters stands on the couch and waits by the window to watch for her Nana when we’ve planned a date together. Her parents tell me when I arrive how long she’s been waiting and watching. She knows I am coming and because she is nearly three she doesn’t fully understand the concept of time. So she waits and watches, waits and watches.

When we believe that God holds the answer to our problems in a storm, we can wait and watch just like my little granddaughter because we can believe by faith that he is faithful. He won’t fail and we can trust that what he says is true because he has the best track record.

The next time you are facing a storm, wait and watch, wait and watch.

God is coming, he is never late with the solution, and he promises if we invite him he will come alongside and wait with us, as we wait and watch.

TWEETABLES:

Unwillingness to wait breeds an anxious heart, especially when we are facing a storm 

Being still and waiting sets us up to watch for God to reveal his will in our situation.

God is coming, he is never late with the solution, and he promises if we invite him he will come alongside and wait with us, as we wait and watch.

When Mother’s Day Is Enough for Everyone

The days leading up to Mother’s Day can be a struggle for many women. Expectations are high largely in part to everything we see in the media and our local shopping malls. It has become one of the most financially successful holidays for businesses.

This year I did a little research wanting to understand the history of Mother’s Day and what I found was fascinating and yet disturbing. Mother’s Day has a darker history then we might realize.

A woman named Anna Jarvis, who had no children of her own was inspired to create Mother’s Day as a celebration to honor her own mom who was a social activist.

Her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, organized Mother’s Day Work Clubs before the Civil War to help improve sanitary conditions and infant mortality and when the war started helped with wounded soldiers.

Anna’s intent in creating the holiday was simple, to honor her mother who died in 1905. She intended the day to be an intimate celebration which was officially put on the calendar by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914.

In the years that followed her intimate holiday turned into a commercial landslide for consumerism which disturbed Anna deeply. She fought most of her life to reverse what it had become and as a result died penniless and in a sanitarium. She loathed what it had turned into.

I have to agree with Anna, although it’s nice to receive flowers, chocolates or a gift, I believe as women we have been set-up.

We are set up to believe what the media and commercial stores want us to think.

That our happiness and value as a woman comes from what we receive on Mother’s Day.

If we don’t receive flowers from our children, a card or a gift we must not be appreciated.

If we don’t have a special gift from our husbands we must not be valuable to the family.

If we can’t celebrate the day living like a queen, there must be something terribly wrong.

Not to mention all the women in our world who aren’t mothers, or have struggles relationally with their mothers, or women who have lost their moms. What do they do with all those messages thrust in their face?

In part, Anna Jarvis was correct. Her desire to celebrate the one person in her life in an intimate way who had been an example of loving others well and giving kindness was crushed by the greed of our culture. She fought her whole life against the rising commercialism of this day.  It has taken over and launched expectations that are nearly impossible to meet and clouded the simple joy of taking a day to appreciate the women in our life who have influenced and nurtured our souls.

I am not allocating to stop giving cards and gifts and making the day special. It is good to honor our mothers. I LOVE PRESENTS AND GIFTS! LOL.

I like Anna, am advocating that we take a step back and readjust our perspective for the day, strip off some of the commercialism and don’t buy into the lies that we hear leading up to this holiday.

For me, I don’t want to put expectations on my family that create the kind of pressure that feels like obligation. I know I have in the past and I am looking at the day with new eyes. I am secure in knowing I am loved by them and that is enough for me.

In recent years, I am coming to grips with the people in my life, they will never be enough for me.

Not ever.

They will disappoint and let me down and I will fail them.

My hope is in the truth of understanding only Jesus can be enough for me. That is worth all the fine gifts I could ever receive. He is the one who dictates my worth and my value. I don’t need the sentiments of cards, jewelry, chocolate, a nice dinner to tell me I am valuable. God says I am enough because He is enough.

Do I like to be remembered? Is it nice to receive a card from the children I birthed? Is it nice to be taken out to a lovely dinner? Of course, three times over! However, it isn’t going to be what I need tomorrow to fill me up to overflowing. God does that first and then the rest is just that, extra blessing, extra joy to make me smile.

To read more about the history:

http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mothers-day

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/05/140508-mothers-day-nation-gifts-facts-culture-moms/

 

 

Saving Christmas

Her deep brown-black eyes and dark curly hair beckoned a second look from me in the store. She was standing all alone holding a book and as soon as her eyes saw mine she called out timidly, “Where’s my Nana?”

My friend and I looked around and didn’t see any adults close by. I leaned down and told this sweet little girl we would help her find her Nana. I offered my hand and she clung to it instantly and followed us to the front of the store. Before we approached the counter she saw her Nana and went running. It was a sweet reunion. She was safe in the arms of the familiar, her Nana.

Nana then encouraged her to say thank you and after a few seconds she said,

“Thank you for saving me,” in her darling three year old voice.

My heart melted as I mulled the phrase, thank you for saving me over and over.

I noticed the store piled with Christmas décor and I couldn’t help but thinking in that moment what “saving” means for me and for you this season. Christmas is coming and it will be here soon, 25 days to be exact.

I pose this question.

What do you need to be saved from as we approach Christmas?

Is it an overly busy schedule with not enough time to get everything done?

Is it finances?

Is it relational heartache that can’t be mended anytime soon?

Is it having to readjust expectations and simplify in order to stay sane?

Is it the news you have been dreading to hear and it has come true?

I know for me as I reflect on the days to come, my heart is broken for a few of my dear friends. One who suddenly lost her husband last month and two dear friends who lost their adult daughters this past year. I’d love to gather them all up and take away the hurt and pain, to save them from the heartache of celebrating with memories instead of holding their loved ones close. Others face sickness, families torn relationally, bills to pay without enough money to cover them and on and on the stories pour in. And yet, Christmas still will come as it does every year regardless of what we are facing, joy or sorrow.

It will come.

Christmas will be on time as usual and as we rummage through the commercialism that shouts to us, we can find peace and hope in the familiar arms of Jesus.

Maybe He isn’t familiar to you, maybe Jesus feels distant and uncaring, maybe you’ve been wounded. But He is the only one who can save us. It might look different, there may still be pain and sorrow, but He can save us with the gift of His unfathomable love. His hand is waiting to lead us to Himself if we let Him.

The little girl in the store had to let me take her to her Nana. She had to will it, even though she was afraid in that moment. Jesus does the same. Not just at Christmas but everyday.

As we surrender to his hand, He saves us.

As we acknowledge we can’t do Christmas without Him, He saves us.

As we realize we can’t take our next breath, He saves us.

As we recognize we can’t make our family behave, He saves us.

As we try to make Christmas a meaningful time for our families with little resources, He saves us.

As we gaze on that child in the nativity scene, he whispers His promise of redemption and…

He saves us.

 

 

 

When Toxic Thoughts Take Over

I am not typically your jump out of bed greet the morning with a smile kind of person. I am what you might call a slow wake put my feet on the ground get my tea first or else be cranky individual. I’ve tried all sorts of things to turn into a morning person but my hard wiring is fundamentally not to be fresh in the morning. Having children however forced me to work on being a morning person. I just had to get up earlier than they did in order to be somewhat cognitive and pleasant.

Because I am not a morning person, it is life or death for me to organize my thoughts in the right direction. It sets the tone for the day and my relationships. If I am worried or stressed without surrendering those leftover thoughts from the day before it becomes catastrophic for the remainder of the new day and those I bump into. I can exercise a bit of self-control but I still leak unless I am intentional about dwelling on what is in my brain space.

Lately, I have been working on those leftover toxic thoughts that have unconsciously taken over certain parts of my life. Dr. Caroline Leaf, author of Who Switched Off My Brain says this, Whatever you think about grows. Don’t focus on what you are going through but what you are going to. I’ve been relearning a common truth that if I keep dwelling on toxic thoughts they will grow and then those thoughts grow into habits and habits grow into toxic words and behaviors.

So what do we do when toxic thoughts takeover?

There is a reason that book of Romans says, …but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. In the front end of Romans 12:2 the writer says to not conform to the patterns of this world. In other words, to think like everyone else is thinking, to change the way we think by renewing our thoughts. Renewing has the implication of changing from something from the inside out as John Piper says in his writings on The Renewed Mind and How to Have It.

Resisting those leftover thoughts and then making a conscious out loud decision to do something with those nagging critters is the solution.

Surrender them to Jesus.

Give them up, write them down and tear it up.

Each time they threaten to sneak under the door of your mind, have a plan of what you will do to not chew on those leftover thoughts. Really, leftovers are only good for a little while then you eventually have to throw them out!

If you and I aren’t intentional about this every single day, toxic thoughts can…

BLOCK OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD – the further I move away from surrendering my thoughts to God the farther I stay away from God believing the lie that He can’t or won’t be able to help me.

ROB OUR JOY – the toxicity can block our perspective of seeing even the little things in life that can make us smile.

POISON RELATIONSHIPS – no matter how hard we try and keep it in, that poison from toxic thoughts can leak into small barbs or unkindness to those around us.

KILL PRODUCTIVITY – allowing those toxic thoughts to continue growing eventually blocks our creativity. I know for me, it has paralyzed me from moving forward.

DIMINISHES OUR INFLUENCE – our influence is our greatest asset and when toxic thoughts reign over our life we limit our ability to positively influence others.

CAUSE DESPAIR TO REIGN – continuing to think and obsess over situations that we can’t control or ones that we have a measure of controlling destroys our trust in God. The enemy sneaks in with his secret weapons…disappointment, discouragement and despair to rule over our minds.

All of the above I have experienced when I’ve chewed and chewed on my leftover toxic thoughts. It’s a habit that I want to break and I am praying that God helps me to continue to change from the inside out. I have allowed pain and wounds to paralyze me to the point of developing unhealthy thinking patterns and I am so done! I won’t lie to you, it hasn’t been easy to re-wallpaper my mind with God’s truth. I’ve created some pretty strong ruts in my thinking. But there is too much at stake not just for each of us but for those lives we influence to get stuck in toxicity of the mind.

Will you join me? God so wants us to flourish in every area of our life like a tree growing with bountiful fruit. He wants to embed his truth both in our heart and our minds. Let’s make a strategic plan to make sure we reclaim this ground in our mind for good!

 

 

 

 

When Mother’s Day Hurts

I let go of my expectations of Mother’s Day a long time ago.

That’s not to say I never had any, I did and lots of them. There was a small wrinkle in our life that never seemed to iron itself out. Mother’s Day is always on a Sunday and that is a full-on working day for my husband. When I said I do, I married a man who had committed his life to working on Sundays forever with The Bride of Christ, the church.

He is a pastor and when our children were younger we were involved in a dynamic large church. Bless his heart, he tried really hard to meet my unspoken and of course out-loud expectations, but year after year it just didn’t really work out. One year I remember that he had put our teenage son Jeremy, in charge of finishing up the meal for us after church. It turned out pretty well until we sat around the table and saw that we were missing one of our kids. Kevin had accidentally forgot to bring our middle son home. I thought he was bringing Jordan home that day but apparently we miscommunicated. It happens when you are a two car go-to-church family. It wouldn’t be the last time that one of us thought we had all the kids. I finally decided that it was okay and I knew that I was loved and celebrated other days of the year.

I’ve been reading some really good blogs this past week on this very topic about Mother’s Day and expectations and I’ve come to a conclusion.

Sometimes Mother’s Day doesn’t work out the way it is advertised incessantly in the media of seeing every store lined with flowers, chocolate and the perfect gift to get Mom.

Hallmark kind of commercials and happy faces don’t always materialize on that day.

Sometimes, Mother’s Day just plain hurts.

I have women in my world who wish they could be mothers and aren’t. I have friends who have lost their mothers to heaven too young and others who have watched their Mom wither away in a nursing home helpless to ease those last days. I have friends whose mother’s just don’t get them and they long for approval and acceptance. I know of women who stay home from church on that day because it doesn’t seem to address all women and the vast delicate emotions that can haunt the day.

It hurts. It’s painful. It’s not a picture perfect day.

What do we do then when Mother’s Day hurts? Let’s keep it as upbeat as we can for those who actually enjoy the day and the rest of us can just tough it out for the day. NOT!! When I was younger and not very wise, I had that very opinion, why does it have to be so hard for everyone? After all, good grief, it’s only one day!

The key word in that sentence is “grief.” Mother’s Day can bring grief, incalculable grief for many. Unmet expectations and scratching off scabs that we just try to let go and forget the other 364 days of the year.

The truth is, it can feel absolutely crushing for some and others it brings great joy and elation. What do we do then?

This is a blog and of course it is my opinion, but I think the answer is simply this…

Let’s give room to all women to be who they are on that day.

Let’s each decide how to either celebrate or grieve and give a wide-open space and abundant grace to each other.

Let’s pray for the women in our world who struggle and not add to their pain by placing our own judgments and expectations.

Let’s not add to the message that gets shouted at us by commercialism and try to put all women in that narrow box.

Let it be and let’s choose to celebrate all women as they are and wherever they might find themselves in the present.

To all my sisters who find this day beyond difficult, I pray your heart will be comforted by the great comforter, the Holy Spirit and you would know that,

The Lord is close to the broken hearted and rescues those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18