Faith

Fixated

My girls love horses, so occasionally we will watch a clip from a horse race and pick our favorite. “The one with the pink!” the 5 year old declares. “I want the gray one to win!” exclaims the elder. We are very scientific in our choices.

Sidenote: another example of our stellar sporting picks is in NASCAR. My favorite driver is Kyle Busch because he drives the m&m car and he wins a lot. Every time he wins, I celebrate with a bag of m&m’s. All in support of racing of course.

The other day we were watching one of these horse races, and the girls noticed that some of the horses had a special contraption around their eyes. 

“Oh, those are blinders,” I told them. “You know how horses have such a wide range of vision?”

“Yes, I know that! Horses can see everywhere except behind them and right in front of them!” Thank you, Wild Kratts.

“Well,” I continued, “sometimes they use blinders to help the horses stay focused. The less they are distracted, the more likely they are to maintain a straight course, run fast, and win the race.”

Did you catch that?

When a horse’s eyes are fixed on what’s ahead, they are less likely to get spooked by something blowing in the wind or be distracted by a rival horse. Rather, they are more likely to be sure of themselves and accomplish their purpose.

This is true of people too. When we operate with the end goal in mind, we are much less likely to run off course or become caught up in what someone else is or isn’t doing. Keeping our eyes fixed on the intended outcome helps us ward off the distractions and accomplish our goals. 

We say “no” to the extra cookie (but not all cookies, because what a downer) when on track to get our lives healthy. We wake up early, write to-do lists, or read a book in order to grow our business or our own personal development. When we sense that the little changes now will make big changes down the road, we put on our blinders, eliminate distractions, and race ahead.

The same is true for our relationship with Jesus. When we are fixated on Him, not looking to the right or to the left, but firmly moving forward in the life He has called us to, we are unshakeable. Immovable. We won’t be distracted by the next fad blowing in the wind. We won’t be so concerned with comparing ourselves to others. We will simply move ahead, eyes on the prize, aiming to win the race.

…let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…
— Hebrews 12:1-2

King Solomon, known for his wisdom, advised his son to not be sidetracked, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.” Proverbs 4:25

What happens when our eyes are fixed on what lies before us? On eternal, Kingdom things? Well, the Bible holds some promises.

We Have Peace

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3

We Maintain Eternal Perspective

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

We Experience Transformation

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.” Romans 12:2 (The Message)

Sometimes it’s easy to let the worries of life weigh us down. But friend, don’t give up. Put your blinders on and chase after God’s plan for your life. Experience His peace, remember your eternal reward, and allow your Maker to continue His transformation of you as you live your life for His glory.

Be fixated on Jesus, and let all the rest melt away.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me - everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
— Phillipians 4:8-9

5 Ways to Fight the Quiet Time Rut

My quiet time has been a bit blah this summer. I’ve allowed social media and needs of my home to distract me. I’ve woken up in the morning and updated the status on my virtual game instead of opening my Bible and ingesting life. I’ve slept in. I’ve adopted an attitude that summer is a lazy season, so it’s okay for me to be lazy too.

Quiet time ruts are real and happen to everyone; even pastors’ wives! The key is recognizing a rut and knowing how to respond when you find yourself in one. Here are 5 ways we can fight those quiet time ruts!

1: Remember the Why

I don’t spend time with Jesus because it’s what I’m supposed to do as a pastor’s wife. I spend time with Jesus because of who Jesus is. God gave me life and He is the reason I live my life. He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. The number one way to live my best life is to have Him in my life. God’s Word is there to speak to us and there is wisdom far greater there than in any social media comment stream or internet article. Including this one. So, if you are reading this article instead of spending time in the Word, turn off your phone and open your Bible.

2: Remember the Difference

I’m a much nicer person when I’ve spent time with Jesus. He changes me. It’s the weirdest, most impossible thing, but I have more energy when I get up early to spend time with Him. I respond to my children and my husband with more grace and love when I recognize the grace and love that Jesus is pouring over my life. When my heart and mind are focused on greater things, the craziness of the world doesn’t pull me down. I am stronger, more confident, more productive, and more joyful, when I make space for Jesus at the beginning of my day. The time is never wasted; it’s the most important thing I do.

3: Make a Plan

What’s causing the noise in your life? For me, right now, it’s my stinkin’ phone. I need to keep it away from me in the mornings and just have it charging in another room. There is nothing so pressing that I have to check my messages as soon as my feet hit the floor. I also need to reconsider where I spend my quiet time. I often sit in a dark room to keep from waking up the house, but since the dark makes it hard to see what I’m reading, I may need a new space.

4: Get Some Accountability

You don’t need to have an official check-in every day, but there is wisdom in sharing your plan with someone else. Find a friend or mentor and let them know what you are trying to do. I love doing a Bible study with a small group because it helps me stay on track. Try downloading an app like YouVersion or She Reads Truth on your phone and choosing from one of the free plans available. Maybe just pick a book of the Bible to read and journal through. Whatever you plan to do, share it with someone and invite them to join you. We aren’t meant to do life alone.

5: Don’t Feel Guilty

If you feel guilty about missing your quiet time, that’s the enemy talking, not Jesus. We do not serve a slave driver, or a God who loves conditionally. He doesn’t demand that we spend time with Him, He wants us to spend time with Him. God sees what we cannot and He wants to share His heart with us. So, if your quiet time has been a bit blah lately, just start fresh today.

What’s your plan? What’s your next step? What are you reading? How is it changing your life?

Joyful are people of integrity,
who follow the instructions of the LORD.
Joyful are those who obey his laws
and search for him with all their hearts.
— Psalm 119:1-2

3 Tips for Answering Your Child's Hard Questions

“Am I going to die tonight?”

How do you even answer that? She was 4. Four years old. I know adults who struggle with the possibility of death, so how do you explain it to a preschooler?

The topics of death, dying, and Heaven had dominated our conversations for several months. She wanted to know about angels, what heaven looks like, and whether all the people she knew would be there. She asked, “When we die, will we float up to Heaven?”

Impossible questions.

I have a feeling you’ve had a child ask a hard question or two, and if you haven’t, there’s a good possibility your kiddos will think of something completely off the wall to ask. So, just in case you have some crazy questions headed your way, here are 3 tips on how to answer them:

1. Remain calm

There was something slightly disturbing about my small child discussing her imminent death at bedtime. But when I took a deep breath and gave myself a moment to respond, I realized just how innocent this question was. In fact, I could take joy in the fact that she wanted to know more about eternal things at such a young age.

Children are curious. If they don’t know the answer to a question, they just ask. In this particular case, my daughter had heard about Heaven. She had heard it was a place you go after you die. She always wanted to know when we were going to Nana’s house, so why wouldn’t she want to know when she was going to Heaven?

The question is probably a bigger deal to you than it is to your child, but if you have a strange reaction, chances are your child will associate the concept with negative feelings. If you want to be the person your child goes to when they have tough questions, be willing to have tough conversations.

2. Take time to answer

It is perfectly acceptable to tell your child you don’t know an answer to an impossible question. Should this be the case, let them know you will see what you can find and get back to them.

Since my daughter had been so curious about Heaven and death, we purchased a book to read together as a family: “Heaven for Kids: My First Bible Reference for 5-8 Year Olds” by Ed Strauss. This book did the hard work for us. It answered many of her big questions and was a resource for any additional questions in the future.

Come back to the topic a few days later to keep the line of conversation open. Let them know what you’ve been thinking since then and ask if they have any more questions. The idea is to keep  the dialogue going. This will strengthen your relationship with your child because you are showing them that the things they think about are important to you. 

3. Make the most of the opportunity 

The more my daughter asked about Heaven, the more we told her about Jesus. We didn’t share the gospel message with her in one fail swoop, but my husband and I tried to help connect the dots: Heaven is where we will get to be with Jesus. He created it and wants us there with Him. Only people without sin get to go. Jesus died so we can be without sin. Everyone gets to choose whether or not they go to Heaven. We are clean from sin when we invite Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, and then we will be in Heaven with Him one day.

These statements came staggered over a period of several months. She would ask a question, and we’d give another nugget of truth. We would read a Bible story about Jesus’s death and resurrection and then discuss the meaning behind it.

Eventually, these little conversations led to the biggest question, “Can I ask Jesus to be my Lord and Savior?” Yes, sweet child, you absolutely can.

So, back to that first question.

How did I answer?

“You know what baby girl, nobody knows for sure when they are going to die, but let me tell you what I do know. I know that you are young and I believe God has a great big plan for your life. I believe that as you grow, God will use you to make an impact for His Kingdom. And you can know, no matter what happens, God is always with you and you can trust in Him.”


What impossible questions have your children asked? What other tips would you share?

For the Kingdom Building Momma

Hey friend. Life is crazy, isn’t it?

I don’t know about you, but I often feel like my days get consumed by the seemingly meaningless tasks. It could be meal time (are your kiddos always hungry?), dishes, laundry, school work, or the general tidying of the house. It’s the navigation of emotions and wills as my children battle over who is allowed to look in which direction.

It’s the navigation of my own emotions and wills when I start to lose my patience.

Doing Kingdom work came much more simply before my little people entered the scene. I used to be available to serve at all church events at the drop of a hat. Now, I have to consider whether it works for our sleeping/eating schedule, or if the opportunity will require a babysitter.

It was easier then. My life operated on my schedule. If I didn’t get enough sleep it was because I chose to stay up too late watching a movie. My quiet times with God were guaranteed, as long as I didn’t hit the snooze button too many times in a row.

But now? With kids? Things are harder. 

Kingdom work is harder, but not impossible. In fact, I believe that God uses the stretching of our comfort zones to shape us into the women He has destined for us to become. My husband has told me, “Your greatest ministry comes from your deepest pain.”

I felt a lot of pain when my girls were babies. The lack of sleep hit me hard. I grew angry at the inconveniences this role was placing on my life. Depression drifted in after the birth of my second child, and it took me over two years to find my way out. Two years to claim joy and purpose once again.

You see, more than anything else, I wanted to be a Kingdom Builder, and these small ones (as precious as they were) made it really difficult to accomplish my purpose.

But life isn’t about my purpose, is it? It’s about His. His plan for my life. And if I have learned anything over the years, it’s the fact that His plan often looks very different from my plan.

So, Momma? If you are feeling the drudge and the weariness of the every day task, those invisible moments that will never be seen by anyone but you, remember this: God sees it. And He is using it.

He is using you to bring up the next generation of Kingdom Builders. You get the opportunity to speak life into these little people, to show them what it looks like to pursue the Lord, and to be an example of living a life of sacrifice for the sake of the One who sacrificed everything for us.

Look past the moment and see the end. It’s not about that one moment, it’s about allowing God to use all the moments combined to accomplish His great purpose.

You are a Kingdom Builder.

“And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one Lord - his name alone will be worshiped.” Zechariah 14:9

He is Big Enough for Your Needs Too

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Everywhere I look there are needs. Big, overwhelming, heart-rending needs.

These are the needs that surround:

a diagnosis
a death
financial disaster
catastrophe
infertility
and more.

Some of our needs stem from the good things in life:

The new baby means sleepless nights.
The job promotion requires extra work.
The big exciting move means making new friends.
The first home comes with a long list of updates.
The new marriage stretches from the comfort zone.
The needs keep coming.

There are needs that we try to push to the side because other needs seem bigger in the moment:

The needs to be wanted, loved, adored, remembered.
The needs for conversation, hope, rest, support, community, and comfort.
Then there are the unnamed needs that keep nagging at our heart and we can’t shake them no matter how hard we try.

All of these needs are important. All of these needs matter. And you know what’s true? God is big enough for your needs too.

It’s easy to see someone who has great need and to feel like your smaller needs must take the back burner for the time being. But you know what else is true?

Your need is not so small that it will slip through His fingers. Your need will never be too heavy for Him to carry. There is no need too big or too small for Him to hold. 

He carries it all simultaneously, and it gives Him great pleasure to do so.

What is your need? Name it. Place it in His arms and allow Him to carry it. He will see you through.

 “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7