Short Sabbatical

Dear Friends,

I’m going to step back from writing for a few months.  I hope to jump back in around June.  There are some things that I need to do for my family, and some things that God is working on teaching me.

I would love to stay in contact with you, and make sure that we can reconnect when I get back.  If you would like to sign up below for my email updates, you will automatically receive the newsletter that I sent to my regular subscribers, explaining the details of this break.  I hope that this way, we can stay in touch, and when the time is right, I can share with you all the fun things going on.

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Learning Dependence

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We took the month of December off of school, and boy did I need it.  We got through about 5 days of Advent readings.  I really dropped the ball in that area this year.

This year of tight schedules, running around, feeling like my new job was that of air traffic controller to these 6 kids and a husband in my house.  The margin available for error is small these days.  My errors, though, stay the same, and I’m constantly in catch up mode.

So I did what a lot of introverts do when they are over-spent.  I retreated, became introspective, reflective, and pretty much became a horrible friend.  I let commitments that meant a lot to me drop.  Through all that, one of my dearest friends was moving to the other side of the globe, and I could barely make myself return calls to her, because I knew those calls were setting up our “last goodbye” for a few years.  I didn’t want to say goodbye, so I retreated.  (We did eventually say goodbye, and I’m still recovering.)

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As I took the month to pause, and regroup, I found myself terrified by what I saw in me.  Writers block hit with greater force than it has in years.  I started to question God about some big things, and then I stopped showing up to hear his answers, because I figured I already knew what they were, and I didn’t like them.  I went into avoidance mode.

God, in his goodness, still pursued me.  He even still worked through me.  As I timidly walked into obedience in one area of my life, and started ministering to some other women, as well as my own daughter, I started having these amazingly deep conversations and was able to encourage people to seek Jesus’ face, as he is the author and perfecter of our faith.  Through these acts of ministry, God was relentlessly preaching to me, using the words that I was speaking to others.

I don’t think God gets angry when we quietly back up with timidity.  He is patient.  I find that with many of the women I speak with, they are afraid to pray what is really on their hearts.  They want to present their best to God, and appear before him unblemished.  They want to get their act together, and show God that they are listening and obedient.

Everything changed in my spiritual walk with God when I learned to present to God my ugly.  When I tell God the truth about my feelings.  When I show God my hardness.  When I question him out loud.  When I tell him that I’m stuck in this trap of feelings and fear, and I can’t get out.

Because he always gets me out of the trap.  And I never have done so on my own.  Hiding the fact that I get trapped in fear and self-sufficiency is just an act of pretense, and God wants intimacy.  My real father is an alcoholic, and our relationship over the years has it’s bulk in pretense.  He pretends he’s fine, for my sake.  I suppose he feels he is protecting me.  What he never seems to realize is that our relationship would grow if he would just share his struggles, instead of hiding them.  I see no point to a relationship based on lies.  I don’t like to pretend to have a relationship, with pretend information.

But in order to be honest with me, he has to be honest with myself.  I continue to find myself in his shoes, as I face God.  If I want to be honest with God, I must face the truth of the ugliness within myself.  And that is easier said than done.

I think God feels the same way.  I think sometimes when I avoid spending time with God, it’s because I’m weary of pretending that I’m good, or having the right words or the right attitude.  It’s just the lie that I have to be good, and show my good to God.

We don’t go to God to please him, but to be changed by him.  

If we go to God to present this person that we wish we were, then the relationship lacks depth.  It has no intimacy.  We must come out of the darkness, into the light, and share the parts of our heart that we’d rather not.

The ugliness in my heart that I was struggling through, and God wouldn’t let me hide, no matter how much I tried, was on the topic of dependence.  I’ll likely be writing about this a lot in the new year.  It goes back to when I was beginning to have good days after my car accident, and I prayed to God the silly prayer, “I’m getting better.  Pretty soon I won’t need you so much anymore.” Then I heard my pride, and my stupidity, and instantly repented.

So the question I’ve been asking for the last several months is “What does dependence on God look like when there is no crisis?” When I’m in crisis, I’m on my knees.  I’m asking God for the practical.  I can only handle the present.

But when the crisis is past, we take joy and pride in “getting our life back in order.” We work hard to make sure we aren’t put in a position of dependence again.

And it felt like God was asking me to step out in faith.  He wanted to use me for his purposes, and I knew, I knew that would mean trouble.  I know that would require dependence.  I was thoroughly enjoying “handling stuff” myself.  I was in a pattern of self improvement and taking steps towards independence.  I was failing, but not failing bad enough to really reach out for God as much.

Praying “Whatever you want, Thy will be done” when I was a preteen was fine and dandy.  It changed my life and God brought me into a world I had never even imagined.  As a teen, young adult, and even a married woman, I have learned to pray “Thy will be done” and open my arms to whatever God wanted to do through me.

But now I have 6 children.  They depend on me.  They hold such extreme value.  They are more precious to me than I could have imagined.  Must I also hold them up to the Lord and say “Thy will be done?” God turned my life upside down every time I have prayed that.  He turned it upside down in such a extreme, but life-giving way.  He changes everything.

But these are my children.

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And if I pray “Thy will be done” now, will he catch me?

I no longer wanted to be a writer.  I no longer wanted to reach many for the gospel.  I started turning inward, and it scared me.  I just wanted my quiet family to be safe and secure.  I didn’t want to become big, and live under the criticism of others.  I didn’t want my words overanalyzed, and mis-taken.  Being misunderstood through my writing has happened before, and it’s one of the most painful things I’ve lived through.  I’m not a good enough writer to avoid it.

I began to believe that if I were to hold my family, my writing, my all to the Lord, and say “Thy will be done” that one of my children would die.  I know that sounds crazy, but let’s be honest and let the crazy all hang out.  I saw so many people telling stories of God’s faithfulness during the hardest of trials, and if I wanted a big ministry, it would mean God would show up big, and the biggest way he could possibly do that is through the deepest hurts.  And that’s the greatest hurt that I could imagine.  Stories of mothers losing their children, and how God showed up started flooding my ears on a daily basis, taunting me.

So I stepped back.  I asked God for promises that if I gave him just me, he wouldn’t touch my children, and he gave me none.  He reminded me that my children are already his to do with as he wills.  He just asked me to trust Him, and his goodness.  My imagination paralyzed me.

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I know God is good.  I know he loves me.  I know he is present with me always, because his presence is so thick and gentle in the midst of my home that he cannot be avoided.  He continued to let me speak to others.  He continued to let me speak truth to my friends and women around me.  Every time I encouraged one of them, I was preaching the gospel to myself.  Every time I shared with them a verse, it was one that God was giving to me.

Faith is sometimes declared as a resolution. I have only experienced that in an emotional state, but from a spiritual-real-life-gritty perspective, I have learned that faith is never something that I can conjure up within me.  It is a gift that God places within me, and I slowly yield to it’s goodness.  Sometimes I feel like a hardened child, who slowly relaxes within the strong embrace of her Father, and when I take that shaky deep breath is the moment of faith.

My word for 2016 was Abide.

I think I could easily use that same one this year.  Though from a slightly different angle, the word I cannot escape for 2017 is it’s synonym: Dependence.

The last few months, I’ve joined a writing group called Hope*Writers.  It has become a huge new source of encouragement and iron sharpening iron.  I haven’t felt so supported in my writing and crafting well since I was in college.  One of the dear friends I have met there, Heather, who is also a writer, encouraged me with these words over our Voxer group.  I replayed them over and over, and wrote them down: “God gives us the grace to walk through hard things, but he does not give us the grace for our imaginations.”

We can live in the “what if.” But truly, living there is not living at all.  God gives grace for hard and concrete situations.  He will be with us in the dark, and in the pain.  But God will not give us a pretend-relationship. He will not give us the answers to all the “what-ifs.”  He simply says “follow me.” It’s faith.  Faith not that everything will be perfect, but that God’s grace will be greater, sweeter, and more sustaining than anything Satan can throw at us.

I’m going to be learning this year what dependence looks like in all circumstances.  It will be the focus of my personal study this year.

As you, dear friends, walk into the New Year as well, and examine resolutions, goals, and this past year, I’ll leave you with this quote shared I happened across yesterday:

“God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible.  What a pity we plan only things we can do by ourselves.” -A.W. Tozer.  

How to Give Your Kids a Minimalist Christmas Without Being a Scrooge

We’ve all had those moments.  It’s usually hits you late at night, as you are organizing the kids toys because you’ve had enough, and they don’t know how to do it right anyway.  You see tons of toys that your kids just dumped for the thrill of it.  You are reorganizing again, exhausted, and wondering even what in the world to get your kids for Christmas, because seriously, you don’t want to deal with any more freaking toys.

I think it’s important to recognize the feelings of a consumerist Christmas:

-Guilt over not getting your kids things

-Feeling like Christmas is when budgets don’t matter, and if budgets do matter to you, you feel guilty about it not being enough too.

-Worry your kids will be disappointed

-Feeling like Christmas = fantasy, and therefore, Christmas is allowed to break the rules.

-Worry that if Santa doesn’t visit your house, or your kids don’t get as many gifts as their friends, than when they grow up they will hate Jesus.

The consumerist-Christmas is a big, fat, guilt trap.  Don’t buy it.

For us, Christmas isn’t time to break all the rules.  Fantasy and imagination are completely encouraged, but that doesn’t mean you break your budget, the bank, or your household standards because it’s Christmas.  We don’t push pause on our values and ideals during this season.  Instead, it’s a time to present our ideals and values from a different angle.  We present it in a very tangible way.  We want to magnify the joy of our beliefs.

Here are some ideas to handle the Christmas onslaught of stuff.

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1) Do a yearly November toy purge.

Our family goes through toys twice a year to get rid of stuff.  Not only does this make toys more manageable to clean, and more appealing to play with, it also lets you know what is missing, and what might need replacing.  Is there a part of a set that your kids would really love?  Do you need to just stop buying a certain kind of toy?  How much space for toys do you have in your house?  Knowing your limits and space is a major thing to keep in mind when going into the Christmas season.  Living outside those limits = stress.

Those limits aren’t there to make your life miserable, they’re there to make your life manageable.  If you’re already full to the brim after the big purge, then make some decisions.  Whether or not you involve your kids in these decisions depends on their age.  As a rule of thumb, school aged kids can handle these sorts of conversations, and younger kids won’t grasp any anti-hoarding message.  Either you get rid of some toys, by donating them to others, or you decide not to spend money on toys this year, and know that upfront.  You can always go for experiences or consumable items instead.  But if you don’t have room going into the season, you need to make some hard decisions, before you end up crying on the playroom floor in January, wondering how on earth you got there.

2) Adopt the concept of “1-week toys” with your kids.

They are the dollar-store toys.  The happy meal, VBS craft, cheap group exchange items.  We call them 1 week toys in our house because honestly, they aren’t toys that are made to last.  They are toys that are made to be cheap, so that people can buy them and show affection and friendship without having to go without food for a month.  They are sweet, cute, cheap, breakable toys.  They’re 1-week toys.

My kids know that some toys that I give them, and some toys that others give them won’t make it to our permanent toy storage.  We’ll have them in our house for a week, and then I will get rid of them.  Sometimes they get thrown away, sometimes they are donated to Goodwill, and very rarely, I’ll keep them in a memory box for the kids, if it holds enormous sentimental value.

While I used to fight the whole idea of cheap dollar-store toys that just felt like an enormous waste of money and resources, I have learned that with 6 kids, they will just be a part of our life, and it is ungrateful of me to say what people can and cannot buy us from the kindness of their hearts.  This has actually made the concept of fluidity of items something that my kids can understand.  They learn how to hold onto something loosely, and enjoy it while you have it, knowing it’s not going to be permanent.  Kids like everything to be permanent, and can’t stand the idea that I don’t keep the 20 pictures they color a day.  This has been an enormously helpful thing to teach my kids that it’s okay to declutter.  It’s okay to say goodbye to things that you have loved.  It’s okay to make choices about what stays in your life and what doesn’t.  It’s actually proven to be a joy to my kids when they get them, and a valuable lesson for them when they say goodbye to them.  And they don’t break the bank.

3) Define what kinds of toys you want in your house.

Just like my kids know that some toys don’t stay in our house, they can recognize a toy that will stay permanently too.  I love toys that make my kids use their imagination, and not merely amuse them.  I like toys that make their brain spark with ideas.  It is very rare that we keep toys that require batteries.  The exception to that has been some robotics, and electrical sets when they get older.  I’m not into the flashing lights and noise.  I like wooden blocks in my house, kitchen toys that don’t crush within 24-48 hours.  I like games.  I like things that either tell a story like a book, or encourages the child to tell a story like puppets.

When you define what sorts of toys you want in your house, all the choices for your kids storage will meet that criteria.  Houses collect toys like a vacuum, so you can afford to be picky, no matter how poor you are.  In fact, when you keep your standards high, toys will be more expensive.  When toys are more expensive, your kids will get less bulk in toys.  When there is less bulk, there is less mess, less cleaning, less purging, and more time to actually spend with them.  Also, the toys won’t break as easily, so less disappointment as well.

4) Make gifts homemade, and encourage your kids to do the same.

Not of all our gifts are homemade, but we try to make our kids at least one of their gifts each year.  I often make them, but my husband will often choose to make a few of them as well, depending on his work schedule that year.  My kids see me making gifts for their siblings weeks ahead of Christmas.  This will a) reinforce the idea that I spend lots of time thinking about them, and what they like, b) fire up their imaginations on what they can make others.  This takes the focus off of what they will GET and trains their mind to think of what they can GIVE.

We will make a yearly fall trip to a craft store, and my kids will pick out some things to make for others for Christmas.  This year I made the older kids make a list of all the supplies they would need, so they didn’t spend hours agonizing over which craft to do while I’m chasing around the little ones in the store.

Handmade gifts have love poured into them, both from the parents end, and the kids’ end.  It reinforces in kids what the gift is actually about, as opposed to just the dream of getting everything you ever wanted.  Also, making gifts limits how many you can give as well, just because of the time they take, and puts into better perspective of how big Christmas should be.

5) Remove catalogs from your home.

I do my best to not let any of the hundreds of Christmas catalogs that come to our mailbox ever reach it to the mail pile inside the house.  I let the charity ones through, where you can buy a calf or rabbit to give to a family living in a 3rd world country.  Occasionally, I’ll let ones through like the American Girl Doll catalog, if I can somehow spin it as “So, do you think we could make something like this for your sister?  How hard would it be to make little doll muffins out of clay, and give them to her as your homemade gift?”

Sometimes if I actually want to look at the catalog to figure out if they have something I want to get for the kids, I will hide it so the kids can’t pour over it.  I think having tons of catalogs around makes it really difficult for my kids to be others-focused.

6) Live within your means.

Living within your means usually refers to not spending more money than you have.  That is definitely a good place to start.  I have learned, however, that this doesn’t just apply to money.  Do you have space for it in your house?  When buying a toy, don’t just ask if you can afford it.  Ask yourself where it will be stored in your home.  Ask if you have the time to train your child to care for this gift.  Ask yourself if you have the time necessary to manage it in your home, whether being cleaned up and spread to the 4 corners, or replacing batteries regularly.  What’s the plan for this item?  When I face the reality that things in my home are work to manage, I become extremely careful to choose items that have a place, (otherwise they live on my dining room table for weeks/months, and then end up under a bed) and whether or not I have the time to include managing it into my routine.  If these questions aren’t answered before the purchase, I end up, by default, making the decision to live in clutter, and always feeling behind in everything.

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7) Let go of legalism.

On one end of the spectrum, we can err by being swished around by the waves of culture.  We can feel guilty that we don’t spend more money.  We can feel guilty they only have 2 toys.  We can feel guilty that everything we’re giving them is practical.  On the other end of the spectrum, we can feel rigid and burdened that our kids have obsessions about getting the $100 deluxe Lego set, feel annoyed that family or friends don’t respect your family rules, and instead of making Christmas about Christ, you’re making it about what you’re NOT doing.

In part of the Jewish tradition of Passover, part of the feast is where the father gives the children something sweet to eat.  The symbolism that they were trying to teach the children was that God is good and sweet.  God is a delight to our hearts.  I think it’s not crossing over to any prosperity gospel to say that God wants good things for you.  Gifts might be a great way to communicate that truth.

The reality is that we strive towards as minimalist Christmas because I was sick of the stress.  I was feeling lost, and we honestly can’t afford more.  I didn’t want my Christmas filled with guilt, and I was convicted of all the waste of it.  It felt like an enormous distraction.  But we aren’t any holier than the family who spends $1,000 on each kid for Christmas.  The Bible warns against gluttony, but also talks about how natural it is for a father to give his child good gifts.  What is right is somewhere in the middle there.

It is good to set for yourself standards of what kind of toys, what kind of budget, and what kind of purpose you want gifts to be in your family.  There’s a difference between being intentional, and being legalistic.  You need wisdom to distinguish between the two.

This list is merely brainstorming with you, not a list of what is right and wrong.  When talking to your kids about it, take the time to explain that this is what your family does out of choice, and talk about how you and your spouse arrived at that decision.  Talk about the pros and cons.  Your kids might have a friend who gets more presents, and they need some perspective, or they might grow up and marry someone from a family who did Christmas totally differently, and they need the freedom to know that’s ok to compromise.  Don’t make a minimalist Christmas a legalistic Christmas.

Not Enough

We mothers carry so much.  As a friend handed Bjorn back to me after church yesterday, she commented how holding him is like a weight lifting class.  It’s not just the physical weight of motherhood, though, it’s the work.

Sometimes I feel helpless as a mother.  No, that’s not the right word.  Unqualified.  Insufficient.  Understaffed.

As a homeschooling mom especially, we spend the first year or two explaining to people that we are qualified, and that we are enough.  Our children don’t need different teachers.  The position of being a mother in this culture is being constantly on the defense.  I have had to defend my decision to stay at home with my children, my decision to homeschool them, and even the number of children that I have to total strangers on various circumstances.

I have been told that my degree is wasted as a mother.  I’ve been told that my children would be better off with specialists for their education.  (I have been told this by strangers.  Ironically, when I sought the help of various specialists, they have told me that my kids are getting more from me than they’d ever receive from a specialist.)  I’ve even had people tell me that mothers who have this many children are the problem with the world today.  It hasn’t been blog readers who say this.  It’s usually strangers.  One guy I sat next to on an airplane.  The homeschooling criticisms come most from random teachers who are still in college, or just out of college.  Teachers who have been working for more than 5 years almost always support me whole heartedly.

And to be perfectly honest, I have so many more weird things about me than being the mother of a large family who homeschools.  Friends, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

If you want to be a mother today, brace yourself.  If no one has criticized you,  there’s sure to be a blogpost out there in some form of an “open letter” telling you why you are doing it all wrong.

The criticism and lectures of motherhood begin in pregnancy.  Every pregnant woman will tell you that everyone has an opinion on everything she should be doing from her eating habits to sex.  Even strangers.  It’s easy to feel the need to defend yourself, and present your side of every story.

Of course, most people don’t say these sorts of things.  I happen to live in a community where having 6 children isn’t that strange, and homeschooling isn’t shamed.  But you only need to hear one remark, one criticism, one time, and it becomes that ache that gnaws when you are working at your hardest.

Yesterday I left church with tears brimming in my eyes.  My pastor caught my eye and gave me a firm hug.  Before that, our other pastor saw me, and offered his encouragement.  I suppose I love church so much because it’s such a safe place for me.  I think back to our pastor’s wife, who suffers from MS.  Through the years she’s been at our church, she has good months, but there have been dark times too.  I remember a few years back, I asked her how she was doing.  She had tears brimming in her eyes too, as she said, “I’m struggling, Gretchen.  It’s been a hard week, and I could sure use your prayers.”  There was no pretense in her.  She has the bravest of smiles, but her incapability to pretend that everything is fine is one of my favorite things about her.  I look up to her for that.

It made me feel like I never had to pretend when I’m at church.  I can tell people, “It’s been a hard week, and I could sure use some prayers.”

Last week I suffered from 3 days of migraines.  Harvest ended late Friday, and I finally got a great massage Friday night from the massage therapist who has been working on my neck as a favor to his daughters who are my friends.  We have talked a few weeks about a treatment that would help my neck and chronic pain long term, though it’s not comfortable for him to scrap my muscles like that.  Saturday I took it easy, but my shoulders ached like someone punched them hard.  Knut knew I was at the end of my rope, physically, and helped out with the kids.

Some of my kids had a hard week as well.  It’s to be expected the last week of harvest, but I do not tolerate disrespect very well.  I tolerate ungratefulness even less.  Arrogance and entitlement trigger my temper like nothing else.  “I can’t do this, Mom” I can handle.  “Mom, can you help me?” I can handle.  Bickering, I can handle…for awhile.

During church one of my kids had to leave the service.  As I went to talk with this child, and encourage, speak truth, fight alongside them, I heard words of criticism from their own lips that cut deep.

“You’re a horrible mother.”

Every time I tried to speak truth and life yesterday morning, I was battled with lies and hate.  I knew this was a spiritual battle.  This child knew where to kick me with words.  Right there in that blessed church, evil words were spoken, too many, intended to hurt me.

Of course my child doesn’t get to name me.  Only God can do that.  My identity does not rest in their hands, it’s already decided in His.

But sometimes loving your kids feels horrible.  Sometimes you can’t reach your kids.  Sometimes there are no words.  In those moments, it’s easy to want to fight to get your child’s attention.  Fight to get the last word.  Fight to prove your worth, knowledge, and status.

A very wise woman told me once that the Holy Spirit has access to our children’s hearts that we do not have.

I have learned that when I cannot reach my children’s heart, it’s usually because that’s when I’m supposed to back up, and let the Holy Spirit do his work.  You see, I’m not enough.  I’m not sufficient.  I used to fear that I wasn’t enough, but now I know it.  I know it, and I find comfort in it.

Because if I were enough, then my children wouldn’t need God.  

If I were enough to meet all the needs of my children, they would have no need to look elsewhere for wisdom and comfort.

The other week, a different child declared that he/she was going to run away.  In their frustration with our rules and expectations, the declaration to leave was made.  I asked this child where they intended to go.  They said they were going to church, where people listened and understood.  People liked them there.

This poor child didn’t know that this pleased me like crazy.  When upset, this child wanted to run to the arms of God’s people who had shared loved with them so generously.

Oftentimes, I’m not enough.  Sometimes I need help from our community to reach my children.  I’m not above counseling, or finding my kids mentors.

More importantly, I’m learning that my insufficiencies are put there by design as an opportunity to point my children to God.  I can’t tell you how many times I will say, “Call out to God.  Share your anger with him.  Be brutally honest with him.  He can take it, I promise.”

“Go spend a few minutes and pray.  Tell God your side of the story.  Tell him how upset you are.  Talk to him.  He’s listening.  Open up his Word, and listen to him speaking.”

“Tell God about how you are disappointed.  Open up his Word, and let him speak to your heart.”

One of my children said a little over a month ago, “Mom, hearing God talk to me isn’t the problem.  It’s that his words don’t make any sense.  He wants me to love people I don’t want to love.  It’s like I have a hard time trusting that he actually has my good in mind, because it feels like he just has everyone else’s good in mind, because he wants me to love everyone else, and it feels like he’s forgetting about me.”

I love the honesty of children.  Don’t we all feel like that sometimes?

There are some spiritual truths that my children will have to learn without me.  There are prayers their lips will say that I won’t hear.  I am not my children’s god.  I cannot fix their hearts.

My children are used to coming to me with their troubles.  I must train them to start to bring their cares to God.  It’s tempting for children to think that God is an idea, but a mother is practical.  Therefore God will limit the mother’s reach, so that the child has a chance to see the practicalness of God.

God is not just a philosophy, a story, or a set of rules.  Neither is a genie, some Santa Clause in the sky, there to grant our wishes, and make our lives full of comfort and ease.

God is a Father.  God is family.  God is love.  (The powerful kind of love, not the well-intentioned, weak kind.)

The sooner our children bring the cares of their heart to God, the better.

Satan will whisper a lie to mothers during this transition: You are failing.

You are not enough is true.  But we aren’t supposed to be enough.  That is not the same as failure.  That is a servant doing her duty wholeheartedly to the degree that her master wishes.  When the Holy Spirit whispers to our hearts to stop lecturing, and start praying, it is a wise thing to obey.

Sunday afternoon I spent on my bed, sandwiched between Knut, and my 5th child, Ingrid.  The bedroom was filled with piles of clothes, a thick covering a dust, and a very dirty carpet.  The 3 of us snuggled under grandma’s quilt, and talked about her doll as my husband had his arms around me, and I had my arms around her, and she had her arms around her dolly.

I laid there, and looked up at the ceiling, smelled Ingrid’s sweet hair.  It’s good to take a step back.  It’s good to lay down and just hold one another. This is what resting in God’s promises looks like.  With all the lies the enemy has thrown at me these last weeks, God has not been silent.  Promises that he’s holding me have been thickly spread on my prayer life.

Sometimes he calls us to action.  Sometimes he calls us to be still.  As hard as it is to be still when I see the work around me that needs to be done, and force myself to lay down, and I hear the desperate need for correction and disciplining of my children, and I force myself to be silent.

Because when God does tell me to be still, and know that He is God, butterflies start to swarm in my stomach as I realize with great anticipation:

God is working.  And if you’ve never seen God working up close in your child, with a front row seat that we mothers have?  Oh, friends.  It’s spectacular.  It’s the most beautiful thing you will ever witness.  I’m so thankful I’m not enough because my kids having God is so much better.