Because “You’re Worth It”

The commercials that tell me to buy something, do something, go somewhere, treat myself, or indulge because “I’m worth it” really turn me off.  In fact, for years, they actually made me rebel against the idea of doing anything for myself.  After all, I’m called to serve my family and others selflessly – not spoil myself, take lots of “me time,” and spend money on stuff to make me feel pretty and vivacious.

I still agree with my old way of thinking when it comes to being called to serve my family and others selflessly.  Indeed I am.  Feelings are fickle, so while I could spend money on something to make me feel pretty, that very same item might make me feel fat and ugly five minutes later.  “Me time” can be wasted and unproductive, leaving me more hesitant to serve, instead of refreshing me.

However, I’ve discovered that the me that rebelled against taking time, energy, and even money to care for myself was not actually always being selfless.  Much of the time, I played the role of a martyr.  With a sigh, I’d tell myself things things like, “Maybe someday when the kids are older, I’ll have time to exercise/write/play games/craft/relax.  I must give to my family and others until I drop – but it’s okay.  I’m called to serve.  I’ll eat healthy when I have more time.  I don’t really feel like drinking water or eating fruit.  I’ll just grab these five cookies and a Pepsi to pick me up.  I hate to leave the kids with anyone else, they really just need me.  Someday I’ll have time to myself.”  And on and on my thoughts would take me.

While I was deceiving myself into thinking I was being selfless, I was truly feeling sorry for myself and the role I played in our family.  More than that, I neglected my spiritual, emotional, and physical health in the name of selflessness.

Because You're Worth It

Ladies – I’m here to tell you that there is nothing selfish about taking good care of yourself.  Stop listening to lies and feeling guilt over what God calls you to do for yourself and your health.  You are so very worth it!  God says so.  Your physical, emotional, and spiritual health are vitally important – no matter your season in life.  You can not effectively care for your family when you are exhausted, under-nourished, sluggish, sleep deprived, unhappy, dehydrated, moody, out of shape, or depressed.

You know what I discovered after years of believing that I didn’t have time to spend in the Word each day?  That I don’t have time not to spend time in the Word each day.  That my time is more effectively used, more productive, and more focused when I take time out to sit with Jesus each day.   So what if there are dishes to do?  I can do them cheerfully later, after I’ve let Jesus refresh my spirit.

You know what I discovered once I stopped thinking I didn’t have time, energy, or desire to exercise?  I found that I love exercise, need exercise, and that regular work-outs give me more energy and help me get more done each day.

You know what I discovered once I stopped eating and drinking so much sugar?  I think more clearly, sleep so much better, don’t have sugar crashes, and crave more water and nutrient filled foods.

You know what happened when I started listening to and obey God instead of the world or myself?  I became a more loving wife, a more patient mother, a more cheerful person, and a more Christ-focused servant.

I still struggle sometimes.  I fight anxiety.  I get angry.  I don’t always get enough sleep.  Life isn’t perfect for any of us.  Puke happens.  Kitchens explode.  Laundry piles multiply.  Kids disobey.  Husbands aren’t perfect.  I fail.

But His strength is made perfect in my weakness.  I only recognize this truth when I am taking care of myself.

This might mean I’m spending money on health care, good food, exercise classes, or going to my massage therapist.  This might mean I’m taking a few minutes to dress in a cute outfit and fix my hair.  This might mean I close my door while I’m writing so that I can enjoy uninterrupted time doing what I love to do.

Then, I come before my husband, my children, my church family, my community, and any stranger I run into with a godly focus, a more peaceful heart, a more energized body, and with a clear and alert mind.

Am I worth it?  Oh yes, I am.  And so, my friend, are you.

What about you?  What can you do to take better care of your health?  What do you love to do that would be refreshing and energizing to you?

Homeschoolers Always Never

Homeschoolers are brilliant, hard working, and mature.  They always do well on standardized tests.  They each play at least one musical instrument, beginning at the age of three.  They can each speak at least two languages fluently.  They always graduate early and become neurosurgeons at the age of 22.  They always come from huge families.

Homeschoolers never get enough social interaction.  They never have opportunities to participate in group projects or have class parties.  They never eat Doritos.

Homeschoolers Always Never

I always cringe inside and I never feel like conversations like this build anyone up or glorify God.  So can we stop with stereotypes and generalities already?  Statements about what homeschooled kids always or never do is painful, ignorant, and downright silly.  I’m not just talking about what those who ”don’t get homeschooling” say.  I’ve heard some of these statements from homeschooling families too.

Is it true that public schoolers always get into trouble, do drugs, disrespect their teachers, and slough off during high school?  Of course not.  Just like there are all varieties of students in the public school – ranging from scholarly to bully to godly to needy to athletic to healthy to highly intelligent to drama queen – so it is with homeschoolers.

Can I tell you a homeschooling truth?  Some students are only “average” (which, for the record, is defined as normal, typical, and common – and therefore nothing to be ashamed of).  Some of them struggle to read and write.  Some knock the socks off the ACT and other standardized tests, but some do not.  Some are musically inclined, while some are completely tone deaf.  Some love learning foreign languages and some barely master speaking the English language using complete sentences.  (Like, yeah. I know right? Totally.)

Homeschooling does not ensure that kids will grow up to follow the Lord.  Public schooling does not turn out robots.  Homeschooling does not make kids anti-social.  Public schooling does not provide more opportunities.  Raising kids, no matter how you choose to do it, takes work, patience, and an immense trust and reliance on God - the One who created all of us uniquely for His glory.  I am raising four boys in the same house, feeding them the same food, passing down jeans from one boy to the next, reading them the same books, teaching them the same math, and talking the same talk daily to all of them at the same time.  Would you believe that all four of them are all very different in their talents, interests, learning styles, and personalities?  I’m fairly certain that none of them have any interest in becoming a French speaking, cello playing, neurosurgeon.  Thankfully, I realize that this doesn’t mean I have failed as a homeschool mom.  I see their God-given talents shining in other ways.

Homeschoolers, public schoolers, private schoolers, adults, children, men, and women are individuals with unique talents, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.  Each one of us is always never anything less than God created us to be.  Let us never make a generalized statement that might belittle that truth.

P.S.  I thought it may be of interest to note that last night, our family ate a meal with a group of homeschoolers.  We all shared a bag of Doritos.

Our Light and Momentary Troubles

Rarely do our trials feel light or momentary.  We know in our hearts that God is in control, but living peacefully in that truth is hard when we are focused on what is seen on this earth.  After all, much of what we experience on this earth is challenging.

While praying for some friends of ours, God led me to this passage in 2 Corinthians this week.  I was so encouraged by these words from Paul.  Truth:  We are being renewed daily.  We fix our eyes on Jesus, knowing that our eternal glory outweighs everything we struggle through on this earth.

Praise God for His truth and promises!  Knowing my tendency to rely on myself and on the things that are seen, I printed this verse out so that I could post it on my fridge and be reminded of these truths.

Being Renewed Image

I created a printable of this passage to share with you.

Download the Being Renewed Passage for your encouragement.

Hold on to truth!

Time Does Not Heal

Times are changing, time is money, it’s just a matter of time, there’s no time like the present, and as we all know, the third time is – say it with me – a charm.  A stitch in time saves nine (which is a huge blessing because otherwise there would not be a ten, eleven, or twelve).  We can kill time, track time, spend time, save time, pass the time, be pressed for time, and waste time.  Time is precious, time flies, time is of the essence, and only time can heal a broken heart.  Wait.  Are we sure about that?

We hear it all the, well…time.  When we are grieving.  When we are hurting.  When someone causes us pain.  When there is a breakdown in relationships.  When we’ve lost something or someone dear to us.

“Hang in there,” people tell us, ”time heals.”

Awesome.   The next time I’m experiencing emotional pain, writhing with a deep down ache, I’ll just fold my hands and wait for time to heal me.  I’ll keep my eye on the clock.  I’ll flip the pages of the calendar.  A few hours, a few weeks, a few months – it’ll all be okay after that.  After all, they say that time heals.  How much time, I’d like to know?  How long do I have to wait to feel better?  How long will I be hurting so intensely, waiting for time to heal my wounds and give me joy again?  Hurry up time.  Do your thing!

I’m here to tell you that while healing does take time, time does not heal.  God heals.  Jesus is the one who took our hurts and burdens to the cross, and because of him, we will find healing.  Depending on the deepness of the wound, it may take months or years for God to do His work to completely heal our wounds.  But we rely on no other healer other than the Great Physician himself.  And in the midst of the healing, God is faithful to caress us with His ever-present comfort.

God Heals

Time without Jesus brings on the bitter.  The ugly.  The shame.  The guilt.  The lack of forgiveness.  Without Jesus, we can hold onto the hurt, and instead of healing us, time can in fact magnify our hurt, anger, or frustration and produce greater struggle than what caused our pain in the first place.  Without Jesus, decades can pass, and the healing will never come.  No amount of time can heal a heart holding on to bitterness.

Are you hurting?  Don’t wait for healing to come.  Fall to your knees and cry out to God.  Allow His healing power to seep into your soul and heal you to the very core.  Let the Holy Spirit work in you to make you whole again, to give you direction, and to bless you with the peace that passes understanding.

In His perfect timing, you will find healing.   Praise God, we serve the ultimate healer!  God is good…all the time.

31 Days of Praise – Have You Been Reading This?

At the beginning of this year, I mentioned to you that I had started reading 31 Days of Praise, by Ruth Myers.  Now that it’s almost March, I wanted to check in with you again to see if any of you have been reading it too.

31 days of praise

What I love about this book is that it is straight from scripture.  There are no author opinions on how I should be living my life, no one telling me what I should or should not be doing, no suggestions about what a scripture might mean.  It’s simply scripture put into prayers of praise.

While I’ve been reading it for almost 90 days already, I’m still only on Day 11.  Why?  Because this book is meant to be savored.  I read the same pages over and over as I meditate on the words and focus my thoughts on the Truth from the scriptures.  I’m chewing on it slowly, letting God’s promises seep in, in the midst of my praise to Him.

I highly encourage 31 Days of Praise and would love for you to experience the richness of all this book has to offer.

I should also mention that I am also very much enjoying Jesus Calling.  It’s words are a constant reminder to me to let go of control and worry – and to simply let Jesus be my savior.  I read it on my own each morning, then I read it to my boys at breakfast.  It is wonderful.

Have you read, or are you reading either of these books?

Just Today

A female chaffinch sitting on a branch of a hawthorn tree.

Always the most profound truths are those that are the most simple.  I am amazed at what God keeps teaching me based on scripture I’ve read and known my entire life.

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).  Ain’t that the truth?  I know this, and you know this – but I believe that worrying about tomorrow (and today and yesterday and next week and 2016 and…) is one of our biggest battles as humans.

I’ve been wrestling tremendously with this the past few weeks.  Mistakes of yesterday, fears about tomorrow, questions about the future, anger over what I can’t control - they threaten to take over my thoughts.  Why, when I know better, do I let worry cripple me?  Why, when I believe Jesus’ promises to take care of me, to provide for my every need, and to take care of all of my tomorrows do I still choose to let worried thoughts claim my heart?

Lord, I believe.  Please help my unbelief.

I was led to return to the truth of the passage above and read it within its context.  Matthew 6:19-21 say, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Yep, I know.  I’ve read that one my whole life too.  Treasure in heaven, got it.  I’m not much into material possessions.  I don’t care at all about having lots of stuff.  Thieves would roll their eyes and be bored in our house (unless, of course, they are interested in a loaf of homemade bread).  Riches.  Jewels.  Nice vehicles and a bunch of flat screen TVs.  That’s what the scripture is talking about, right?

Sure, if that’s what your struggle is.  But who says treasure means stuff?  The question I should be asking is, “What or who has hold of my heart?” because as the scripture says, “where my treasure is, that is where my heart is also.”  If my heart is so caught up in the worries of this world that I fail to recognize that God is in control, that God is taking care of me, and that Jesus has already claimed the victory – then the treasure I’m claiming is my self.  The thieves are the lies I am choosing to believe which hold me in bondage and steal my most prized possession:  The joy given to me by Jesus.

We can not serve two masters.  Self cannot be our master, unless we desire to live a life of worry and fear.  Our job is to lay ourselves down and eagerly seek first (not second or third) His kingdom and His righteousness.  That’s it.  God takes care of the rest.  That is His promise to us.

So today?  We choose to accept God’s gift of peace.  He’ll give it to us tomorrow too, and the next day, and the next.  Worrying about tomorrow (or 2016) offers us no answers – only misery.

Focus on today.  Today only.  Jesus is here, rescuing us from fear and frustration and replacing them with the greatest treasure to fill our hearts: His peace.  Rest in this promise.  Today.  Tomorrow.  Always.

31 Days of Praise – Join Me! {With a Fairly Cheesy Illustration That May Inspire You to Vacuum}

Last night I dreamed about the biggest vacuum cleaner ever.  You’ve gotta love the dreams of a homemaker.  Yes, sometimes I dream of blenders, too.  And also occasionally of butter.

In my dream this time, the huge vacuum came down from the sky and began to hover (no, not Hoover) over my yard.  I watched in awe and wondered what exactly it was planning to do.  After all, it did have a miracle to work in my home after a lively Christmas holiday in which we had taken several days off from cleaning.

vacuum

The vacuum looked exactly like this, except that it didn’t actually resemble this one at all
because it was a dream and they don’t make vacuums like that in real life.
 

The enormous contraption continued to hang out in the air above me, as if waiting for me to do what I was supposed to do so that it could perform its duty.  But I was preoccupied with several other matters that were making me uneasy.  Worry about my kids had been creeping in as I was trying to figure out how to handle each situation.  What to do, what to do?  And now I had the problem of a giant vacuum buzzing over my yard.

I finally decided that I would need to stop worrying about all the other matters so that I could instead deal with the monstrous vacuum.  Since I couldn’t deal with them both at once, this meant that I had to let go of all the worried thoughts floating around in my head.  So I did.  And umm (this was a dream, remember), when I let go of the yuck that I was anxious about, it all scattered all over my yard.  Don’t try to picture it. 

Burden released, I then turned to the vacuum that I was now ready to deal with.  But the vacuum ignored me because it already knew what it was supposed to do, and could now get down to business.  It lowered it’s powerful hose, and with its amazing suction force, it quickly sucked up every last bit of my yuck and worry.  Then it went away.  Eureka!

I saw my problems disappear along with the vacuum as I woke from the dream.  And I also remembered that we had watched Despicable Me 2 last night (while eating nachos) and the big vacuum thing that sucked up all the Minions is probably partly where the lovely visual in this dream came from.

So what does any of this have to do with 31 Days of Praise?  Well, it’s time to learn to let go of what worries us, and to instead embrace Truth, resting in the peace we receive through Jesus.  We can not hold on to both at the same time. 

It’s obviously also time for me to vacuum my house.

I had two books on my Christmas list this year.  Yay for me - I received them both!  I spent a relaxing afternoon yesterday reading the introduction to both books, and decided I absolutely needed to recommend them to you.  I love them already.  These books are full of TRUTH!

The Bible is our ultimate source for Truth, right?  So keep on diving into the Word.  Take time to chew on the words, savoring the words of Jesus and the lessons to be learned.

I believe 31 Days of Praise: Enjoying God Anew, by Ruth Myers, and Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, by Sarah Young, are wonderful additions to our growth and encouragement as we seek God and learn to listen to Him, praise Him, worship Him, and live a life of peace in Him.  Care to join me in reading these books this year?

I read Day One of 31 Days of Praise: Enjoying God Anew this morning, along with all the scriptures that went along with the truths she shared.  It was powerful.  And I want to say more, but really, I just want you to read it.  This stuff is rich.

31 days of praise

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, by Sarah Young, includes a short devotional thought for us to read each day of the year.  I’m waiting until January 1 to start reading through this book.  But a few months ago when I was having a difficult few weeks, a friend of mine who owns this book, shared some of the thoughts she had been reading from this.  I was incredibly encouraged to read these truths and to be pointed to scripture that applied to my struggles.  I love it.
jesus calling

You may also be encouraged while reading through a series I wrote this fall called Raw.  It’s a story of my journey during the past year of truly accepting the peace Jesus longs to give us!

I also plan to begin a series in January to encourage simplicity in eating a Real Food diet.  Watch for more info coming soon.  But starting the new year at the feet of Jesus is most important of all.  Join me in this journey to Truth!

Have you heard of these books?  Read them?  Interested in reading them with me?

We Need Each Other {Guest Post at StrongChurch.org}

strong_church

I am honored to have my post featured today at StrongChurch.org.  I’d love for you to head over there and read it.  Here’s a snippet:

…  And by all means, we don’t want to embarrass ourselves by sharing what we are truly struggling with.  That might get too personal.  It might reveal something ugly.  No, we’d best keep our issues to ourselves.

That’s why our conversations in the church foyer often sound like this, “How are you?” “Fine, how are you?” “Fine.”  We call it fellowship, even though I often have a more meaningful conversation with the bagger at the grocery store.  (“Paper or plastic?”) ….

Read the entire post at StrongChurch.org

 

What? You’re Not Perfect Either?

What You're Not Perfect Either

When I wake up in the morning, I like walking into a clean living room.   I love to see a bathroom empty of dirty laundry.  And I feel so peaceful cooking breakfast in a tidy kitchen.

When I wake up the boys, it feels great to see them sleeping in a room that is uncluttered.  As I walk back downstairs, I love to see our school room organized, our stash of Legos all picked up, and a hallway that is clear of all toys, clothes, and balls.

Yes, this is what I strive for as a homemaker.  It is when my house is cleaned and uncluttered that I feel peace.

So what happens when I wake up to a kitchen that looks like this?

dirty_kitchen_1

And a hallway that looks like this?

clean_laundry

And a Lego room that looks like this:

lego_room

Should I then feel like I’ve failed?  Should I sigh deeply, let my shoulders drop, frown, and wonder {again} why everyone else has it together better than I?

Sure I could, and I have many times through the years.  After all, older women have encouraged me to never go to bed with a dirty kitchen.  Books and blogs I’ve read have provided so many organizational tools and scheduling ideas that if I were to only implement them already, I could easily get done what I need to each day.  There should be no reason that my clean laundry sits in the hallway for three days before we get around to folding it and putting it away -  after all, I am home all day and I have a lot of boys to help out.  I have got to get better organized!  I have got to figure out a better schedule!  Somehow I must not be doing something right!

What is the matter with me?  When am I ever going to get all of this figured out?

Nothing.

Never.

Nothing is the matter with me and I am never going to get all of this figured out.  How about you?  Now let’s all breathe a sigh of relief.

Let’s stop seeing our personal imperfections and feeling crushed by them.  As huge as our laundry piles are, as long as our to-do lists become  - God is so much bigger, and so is his grace.  While He does call us to take care of our homes, He doesn’t ask us to be enslaved by them or to make them an idol.

If we are so hung up on creating a perfect home that we lose sight of the heart of our home, ain’t no amount of dishwasher detergent gonna give us peace.  Enough about me (or you) as a homemaker.  Jesus is the One who makes a home.

Sometimes I wake up to this:

dirty_kitchen_4

It’s great.  I love it.  I strive to stay on top of the jobs that need to be done in my home.  And I will continue to work hard because that is what I am called to do.

But never again will I feel like a failure when working hard for my family does not achieve perfection.  Jesus is the heart of our home.  The gunk on my floor doesn’t stand a chance.

What gets you down?  What do you need to let go of so that you can accept the gift of God’s peace for your home?

Free Printables from Heavenly Homemakers ~ Galatians 6:9 Wall Hanging

freeprintables2

It’s one of my favorite verses.  I quote it to myself often.  It gives me strength, and helps me know that what I am doing as a homemaker, mother, wife, servant, friend, and child of God is not without purpose.  It reminds me of my calling for God’s kingdom.  And it encourages me to continue to seek Christ for my strength and focus.

Galatians69color_sm

This week, our free printable is this beautiful wall hanging for you to print, frame, and hang in your home.  There are two different options – blue and black, or gray and black.

Galatians69pr_sm

Download Galatians 6:9 in Blue and Black here.

Download Galatians 6:9 in Gray and Black here.

Wanting to bless someone else too?  For just a few dollars, you can print and frame this and give it to someone who needs encouragement.

I printed this, put a piece of coordinating blue cardstock on the back, then framed it (for two bucks).  I LOVE having this in my living room!

galatians69_3

Looking for more free printables that will benefit you and help you to bless others too?  Here are our Free Encouragement Cards printable from last week.  Check back each Monday as we offer a new free printable option each week!