Several nights ago I dug out a study that I had started over a year ago. It is a six week study and by quick glance I had completed through week four. Rather than pick up there I figured it was best to just begin again. As I began to read the teachings and practices the study came back to mind.
Like many other studies there are places to jot notes and answer questions. I read the prompts, spent some time in reflection and began to write. I then read my responses from over a year ago. It was a true reminder of the work that God and the Holy Spirit have been doing in my life.
So many of the old statements and answers were filled with "I' and "me." Clearly I had learning to do and still do. I am floored at how God has worked in one year in my life. How a clearer dependence on him has opened my eyes and has started to change how I pray and talk to God.
Today my prayer is that he continues to journey alongside me to help guide my path as I know he already has it all planned out. True dependence is knowing that the journey can be long, painful and drawn out with a short period of living out what we have learned. The process can also be smooth without hiccups as we navigate the doors he opens and closes. True dependence is knowing that he has us in the palm of his hand, that he is the one who provides for us through his deep love and sacrifice.
Today friends find peace knowing that if we depend on him he will guide us through life's trials and joys.
Those of you following along for the last year know that 2018 was a year of growth. There were many dark days battling post partum depression. When God laid the word deliverance on my heart early on in January 2018 I was mortified. The word seemed daunting. Little did I know that He would bring some wonderful people into my life that helped me fight even harder for the life he has given me. My close family and friends stuck by and crusaded with me. Bless their hearts and souls. I don’t feel as though the post partum depression is gone, but I have found ways to manage the stress, anxiety and darkness.
As I moved in 2019 a new word of the year wasn’t coming to mind. It wasn’t like last year when I opened the bible and it said “Prayer of Deliverance.” Looking back the last several months have sparked possible new opportunities at work as well as in our personal lives (more on that later), which led me to thinking how reliance on him in 2018 helped deliver me from pain and darkness. To continue with that theme my word for 2019 is (drumroll please)…
How often in my days do I make quick decisions without a prayer or asking God for help? The dependence on him in the last year to open and close doors as he sees fit got me to where I am today. That took dependence. The pain and suffering. Dependence. The joy followed by sorrow. Dependence.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope.” Romans 5:3 ESV
I'd love to hear your word of the year if you have one. This has been such a good an grounding practice for me. A word to focus on for the year and to pray over.
God's blessing in the new year,
The weeks long slump of not looking at the word is in full swing. Really during Advent I should be delving into the word, reflecting on the sin in my life and preparing for the Lord's coming. Instead I am scrolling Instagram and hoping God will just show me the way. You and I both know that is not how this works. It takes work to be a follower of God and yes at times we may get into a slump. It is not different than a slump in exercise, meal planning, or managing schedules. I slump in all of those ares simultaneously most days.
Do you want to know the mental difference in my slumps from a year ago? I don't feel nearly as guilty. Through my work with my wonderful counselor at Valley Christian Counseling we have been talking through this guilt and need for perfection. It is ok to get into slumps. The mindset behind the slumps has changed. As I start planning for the week I have started to use the word "could" vs "should." I don't feel nearly as guilty when I don't accomplish something that I could have done versus should have done.
Every day and every week is a new opportunity to overcome the slumps that may consume our lives. The final days of advent will be spent in reflection for me while dreaming of the future with God at the forefront.
Each night we all lay our heads down for rest. Rest that is essential for each new day. I never knew how important rest was to me until I was sitting with a close friend. A friend that opened a door while helping me refocus on the Lord.
The last two months have brought me more sleep, which means more time. Isn't that funny? More rest = more time. My house is a pig pen, my floors are dirty, the windows have slobber marks from the dog, but joy. Less yelling, more happy.
I have more time in the word and more time in prayer. Each day can be filled with joy if in the moments of rest and in the moments of despair we thank Him for what he has provided. Today I am thankful for the gift of rest. The ability to rest even when the world keeps moving at a mile a minute. Perspective and God. We can change one if we believe in the other. Rest in Him.
The last several days have brought anxiousness and fear for the unknown as our family reached a day that would need immense prayer. In each moment of unrest I have tried to release and give these thoughts to the Lord. I know that he will carry them for me as I need.
When life is a whirlwind and we have fear for the future that fear will consume you. That is what I was feeling. I was feeling unrest, worry and anxiousness. Difficulty sleeping and lack of focus. Last night I prayed and read in my devotional before putting myself to bed at 8:00. The first five hours of sleep were solid, followed by three of tossing and turning.
Little did I know that when my alarm would go off at 4:45 I would have a calming sense of peace wash over me. No fear for the day or what was ahead in it. I knew that God had today in his hands. I recently read in a devotional that he gives us the exact amount of strength we need for each day. How fitting. How correct. The peace was and is part of his plan. He knew what I needed today. A true sign that even in what we think are our dark moments he is there to help carry the weight. He is always good and it is always well in him.
Tears stream down my face as I sit and write this in a coffee shop. I feel broken today, broken to the core. Counseling today was hard. Very hard. A time to sit and visit about the last month. The feeling that I am failing as a mom and wife and at my career. The feeling that I am surely messing my kids up to the core. Especially my first born. Putting my high expectations of myself onto her.
Each morning we run the mad race to get out of the house. Every morning I remind the kids ten times to put on their shoes. Three out of five days I am the last one out of the house because I just had to have a chai tea or a smoothie. When we are late on these days the blame goes to the kids does it not? Well in my life it does. It's funny because I say "You know if you would have put your boots on the first time I asked we wouldn't be late." The moment it comes out I know I'm blaming the wrong person. Really I shouldn't be blaming myself or the kids. This is our life and at times we are going to be tardy.
The reality, I am always to work by ten to eight. I can't remember the last time I walked through the door after eight unless it was scheduled. Why do we not give ourselves any grace? I give myself zero. The fear of disappointing others creeps in. The fear of not living up to someone's expectations takes over. Fear rules my life on a far to regular basis.
Fear of failure is ok. Failure itself is ok. Taking a leap and failing is ok. Failure is growth. If a goal or dream is realized to simply and with ease was it a God sized or Kingdom driven dream? Romans 5 tells us that grace will be obtained through suffering which I relate to failure:
"Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our heart through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
Romans 5:2-5 ESV
Shoot you guys, how much hope does that chunk of scripture give us? Even through trials, failure, and blaming others he is preparing us for more. He is pruning us and creating more God like character within us if we are willing to accept the challenge.
As I reflect on today I know I will be listening to this podcast on dreaming and this podcast on pruning for the umpteenth times. My prayer for you (and myself) will be that fear does not consume you but rather propels you to have God sized dreams. Through these dreams may he protect you while helping you grow.
Exhaustion has set in over the last week and I am beside myself. I don't know if it is the fact that harvest is starting or if I am truly exhausted. Each year at harvest I am reminded how hard single parenting is. How moods and expectations change from all parties. So tonight as I write this I am taking a deep breath and avoiding the mess that has ensued around me.
Over the last several months you have seen this little space on the internet evolve from a farm life blog to a blog about a farm wife leaning on God for help and guidance in all aspects of life. There is one part of the farm life blog that I miss, so I am bringing it back with a little revamp. The Tuesday Ten will be back but with different compiled lists on select Tuesdays. This week I am giving you all the feels, quite literally. I hope you enjoy.
1. Joy - This week I found joy in the eyes of my son as he expands his vocabulary and is starting to ask quite the questions. These questions are very different than the questions that our oldest daughter would have asked at that same age, but what a joyful experience to witness their differences.
2. Sorrow - Today the sudden passing of a business acquaintance brought sadness and deep sorrow. We are never given tomorrow so live today with God at the helm.
3. Hope - Finding hope in a clear conscious with the intent to leave my depression in the past.
4. Frustration - The past week has been filled with frustration as our oldest adjusts to school life. A new schedule and no nap has caused frustration in both of us as we navigate this new season.
5. Peace - I was reminded this week over and over again that He is always working with us and on us. A phase of pruning followed by a phase of growth or pruning and growth happening simultaneously. The peace this week has come from knowing that this season of depression is pruning me for growth in Him.
6. Fear - I am determined to not let fear get the best of me. My innate fear of failure has prevented me from taking certain steps. Each week I am challenging myself to put into action tasks that scare me. Actions that may fail, but nonetheless through these actions I will grow and learn.
7. Rest - Did you read my first paragraph? :) Practicing physical and mental rest, challenging myself to rest in the word daily AND to get to bed at a reasonable hour.
8. Grace - I need grace every week, but this week I am practicing the grace of wavering from my normal routine and schedule. I tend to focus on what has gone wrong in my morning routine rather than all of the good in it. Giving myself grace in the morning to sleep in a little later or throw my hair in a ponytail.
9. Patience - Each day is a new opportunity to practice patience. This week that means keeping my cool in reference to above #4.
10. Deliverance - Sharing hard truths with those you love will open new doors of love and light. A chance to deliver myself from hurting and pain.
Each week this ten could look different, but it will always be from the heart with the glory of God mixed in.
Seven years of love.
Today we celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be as close as we are today. Never did I imagine that I could love someone like I love him. This love could have not grown this deep without disagreements, knowing when to say you're right and knowing when to not throw in the towel.
Marriage teaches you as much about yourself as it does about your spouse. There are blissful days but there are also days when I don't like my husband. I always love him but I don't always like him and that is ok. We are on a journey to know each other more fully every day. The love we share should grow with each passing day.
This past year has brought so much grace to our relationship. We are able to share our thoughts and feeling more openly and honestly. We are able to enjoy each others company like we haven't in the past. Yes, we still argue. In fact we did yesterday over where to go to brunch. Really, you can't make this stuff up.
One of the biggest blessings in the last year has been meeting with several couples from our church once a month. Having people on your side that are going through similar stages in life has been so helpful for us. This small group setting allows us to share struggles, sorrows and victories.
So today I am so thankful not only for the last seven years, but especially the last. Thankful that we get to do life together, even on the crappy days. Thankful that we can argue and learn from our mistakes. Marriage is hard. It isn't a walk in the park. Today I am thankful for you, Donald. The Godly man you are; loving me unconditionally even when you don't take me to the correct brunch spot. ;)
Messages have been popping up in front of me the last week or so. They seem to be tying back to the idea of deliverance. See that? The word of the year keeps following me around and showing up. Coincidence? Maybe a subtle reminder and a slight nudge on the shoulder that I have work to do.
For he will deliver you form the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
Breaking this verse down and delving into the meaning of each word opens my eyes more to the refuge that God is. A snare is a "trap for catching birds or animals" and a fowler is the person who sets the trap, who hunts for the birds. I would say that this is a pretty accurate description of what Satan is trying to do in our lives. He is setting traps for us to fall into, to see if we will take the bait. How are we responding when faced with a snare? Are we leaning on the Lord for knowledge and help or are we responding using our own knowledge. I know that in my life I have a tendency to respond quickly with words and actions. I give little time for listening or pondering my response. Each day I am faced with a snare and how I respond can change the trajectory of the day or my life!
Luckily when we place our life in God's hands he is willing to save us from the snares of Satan. He will heal us form the "fatal epidemic disease" that haunts our life. This pestilence or disease could be a laundry list of items: not attending church weekly, not letting God lead, a physical or mental ailment, lying, adultery, the list goes on. When we turn away from Satan and to God he will guide us away from this disease. We will be able to rejoice in the house of the Lord. We are assured several verses later that no evil should be allowed in when we are in his dwelling place.
Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place -
the Most High, who is my refuge - no evil shall be allowed to befall
you, no plague come near your tent.
What reassuring words we are given! He is a good Father! A saving Father! One who will protect us when we seek him and live out the life He has planned for us!
Today I am angry and frustrated. I don't know the real reason why, but part of me feels like people feel sorry for me. They feel sorry that I have to walk this difficult road. I would agree that it isn't rosy, it isn't a walk in the park, but guess what life isn't easy. I don't believe that when we are following Jesus and the promptings of the Holy Spirit that life will always be easy. The one thing I do know through all of this is that I find my rest in him. I have too. I have to give him the glory in it all. The good, the awesome and the downright cruddy.
As a sat reflecting on these tough feelings today I focused on verses from chapter three of Proverbs. Much of this chapter emphasizes trust in him. When we trust in him, our help will come from him.
"Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."
When we take on the challenges in our every day are we taking the path that we want or are we taking the path that He wants? Are we taking the time to listen, observe and acknowledge the promptings that he is giving us? I know that I am very guilty of forging my own path at times. The reason that this path becomes more well traveled than I would like is due to me leaning on my own understanding.
When I relate this to my struggle with a mental illness I know that much of my sadness and darkness comes from my past when he wasn't number one in my life. When I strayed from the path. There were days before recommitting my life to Christ that were filled with bad decisions and heartache. This heartache has a different feel now that Christ is at the helm. In the song Shoulders by For King and Country the lyrics speak beautifully to the fact that he is here to help us when we let him help us.
"My help comes from You
You're right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders"
For King and Country. Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong. Warner/Chappel Music, Inc., 2014
As I wrap all of this together I know that I still have work to do. I still need to open my eyes and heart more fully to him. I know that I need to do a better job of recognizing his path over mine. I need to listen to his promptings. I need to continue to pray the Prayer of Jabez.
When it comes to mental health, let us cast our worries on him. Let us lean on his understanding. If you are on the outside and think that you know someone who is suffering don't second guess the promptings of the Holy Spirit when he sets a path before you. It might be hard to reach out to this individual, but open your heart. Pray for this person. Don't every be afraid to reach out to this individual through email, text message, phone, or a shared meal. This touchpoint could be a positive turning point for them.
My prayer for all of you is that we may listen to the promptings from the Holy Spirit and remember that we all have a path forged for us as long as we leave the understanding up to him. So don't feel sorry for me. Pray for healing of those who are hurting, listen to the prompts and share love.
I'm Lisa, a farm wife, mom and old lady at heart (or my husband tells me so). Agriculture, quilting, and baking were my first loves and now I get to enjoy them with my family!