Weekend Encouragement; God’s Love For Us

I have not been on my blog a much as I would like. I love blogging, and I love reaching out to others and hearing back from you all through comments and emails is one of my favorite things. I love having the community of encouragement that I have found through my blog.

I have been back and forth sick, and it has put me “behind” on all my goals. I am very hard of myself sometimes (or always) and I start feeling like a failure.

And just like that it all came crumbling down on me. Every negative thought and every insecurity of a difficult past just waiting for a weak moment to prove themselves to me again.

A whirlwind of sadness and all of the sudden a bunch of issues I should have sorted through a long time ago consume me. With God’s help I am digging through the muck now.

I am needy. I am in need of truth (and He is truth). I am in need of the love of my Savior. I am in desperate need of Him, and it is scary to depend on someone else, but when I look in His word it reminds me of His faithfulness and love.

I was studying this week and I came across this word in Hebrew; Hesed.

I read it is the most common word in the Bible to describe God’s love toward us; toward people.

It is often used in Ruth, but my favorite verse I need right now is in Lamentations.

There is no direct translation (as I understand it) of Hesed in the English language. There is no one word that describes it as completely as the Hebrew word. I find it most often translated as mercy and loving kindness in the King James Bible.

I liked this definition best so I made it pretty to encourage me:

Hesed Hebrew word for gods love toward us; The consistent, ever-faithful, relentless, constantly-pursuing, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained, furious love of God.

This is perhaps my favorite definition that I have found, (and gently tweaked to include the word mercy).

Constantly pursuing.

That just overwhelms me. He pursues me.

It’s true. The Holy Spirit speaks to us. God desires a personal relationship with all of us. The enemy uses sin and shame to separate us from Him, in our minds only though, for we know that nothing can separate us from Him, not even death.

lamentations 3:22-23 kjv It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulnessIn the above verse from Lamentations the word mercies is translated from that Hebrew word Hesed. When I am feeling so low and separated from Him, like the weight of what I am facing will utterly consume me, and I have nothing left, I cry out to Him.

He is so faithful and loving to me that He shows me His “hesed” love when he answers to me.

His mercy will sustain me. Because of His consistent, ever-faithful, merciful, relentless, constantly-pursuing, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained, furious love I will not be consumed.

I don’t know about you, but I love reading this verse in Lamentations 3:22 this way!

Wow!

And so when I asked the Lord, “How?”

“How will I ever get through this?” I felt his reply was “with my hesed (love) toward you”

Unmerited, undeserved, merciful, pursuant love of God.

Let that get you through your difficult time my friends.

He loves us more than we will ever deserve, like the love of a (good) parent toward their child.

Recently I have begun to think of faith and trust in this way:

Without the ability to navigate, you find yourself in the deepest of forest at the darkest of night. You will surely be lost forever, yet in faith and trust you calmly relax when you could be naturally terrified of certain death and danger. In this place where everyone would understand if you were to despair, you stop and you pray and listen for God to lead you through. For without Him you will be utterly lost. His help is the only thing to lead you.

It will still be dark and it might be scary at times, you might stumble, but what else can you do, but trust Him? You can never get out of the dark place without Him.

*Sigh*

Isn’t He wonderful you guys?

I struggle with my trust of Him, and it is unfair to Him. I  am human. I am flawed. I am a work in progress. It’s okay, I’ll keep working on it, surely I am not the only one.

Love is the answer. Trust is the answer. Faith is the answer.

As my pastor often says. “Easy preaching; hard living.”

Have a great weekend you all, and be patient and kind with yourselves as He is with us, okay?

Love to hear from you all, please leave a comment, or if you have something that encourages you, you’d like to share I’d love to hear it, thanks!

 

To the Families of Child Cancer Patients on Cancer Awareness Day

It’s late at night and I was thinking about some friends of mine on this National Cancer Awareness Day. Friends and acquaintances of mine whose children suffer from cancer.

I was going to write a Facebook post, but it occurred to me that I had much to say. I hope they read this, but it is okay if they don’t. These are just my thoughts. I know that there are more than children suffering from cancer, and I am aware that it is always devastating for the families no matter the age, but as a young mother I find the cases where children are involved just stay with me each day.

So here are my thoughts. To my lovely friends and to those lovely strangers going through the same battle.

open letter to the families of child cancer patients on cancer awareness day

I go on social media, most every day. I feel like in this way I am checking in on people I love. Every morning, just making sure everyone is okay. As I have reached the age at which myself, and most of my peers have become parents, I have watched them post pieces of their lives on social media.

I celebrated with them as they announced their engagements and waited in anticipation to see wedding photos. For many of you I drove a great distance so we could celebrate together.

Later I shrieked at my computer screen and went running around my house to tell anyone who would listen that my old friend just posted that she and her husband were expecting a child, and then again, I waited. I waited to see pictures of tiny babies. For many of you those pictures never came, and I watched you struggle with that heartache, but for most of you, I watched as you posted pictures of your new baby, your eyes gleaming with…love.

smartphone checking phoneI enjoy opening up my app every morning and scrolling through cute pictures and silly stories. I love seeing photos of play days and Christmas cards, recitals, and haircuts.

And then every so often comes one of those post I have to read so slowly, and so carefully. It usually says something like “We took him to the doctor, it is cancer and treatments start next week.” For some of you it’s not cancer, but a terminal illness diagnosis. For some of you, you’ve left the doctor knowing your child’s life expectancy, or that in a matter of years they would lose the ability to walk.

I can’t know what that is like. It is not my journey, but perhaps I can give you a glimpse into what it is like for me over here on the sidelines.

I want you to know that when I heard your little child was sick, I cried. Everything in my world moved in slow motion as I thought “Oh, no God, please heal this baby.” I probably stopped everything I was doing to excuse myself from my children and sob as my heart breaks at the overwhelming news. Even though we haven’t seen each other in years or we only met briefly.

add you to the saddest prayer list quoteI remember how you prepared for that little baby, who is now sick, and I add you to the saddest prayer list I never thought I would have to make, and then I tell as many people as I can about you, hoping that they will join me in praying.

As the startling news starts to sink in and I’ve taken all the time I can away from my daily tasks, I return to my “normal day” with a heaviness weighing on me, as I grieve with you at this news.

The next day when I check in again, I’m reminded of the gravity of the situation as you post a photo update of your poor little child in a hospital bed.
I will probably put some money in a passing offering plate or an online giving account, but what I really want to give you is a hug. Also I want to give you, your space, so I part with money you need more than I do, and hope that it does indeed help your family.

I watch you be stronger than anyone should ever have to be, and I am encouraged and inspired by you. I know that you probably cry when no one is around and that you probably haven’t slept much, and that is okay. It is okay to be human through this. However you go through this, it is okay. (I know you don’t need me to say that, but in a world where everyone is making anonymous social media accounts to leave cruel discouraging remarks. I completely support you.)

encouraged and inspired quoteI watch you post about the good days and the bad days. I see as people clamor around you to support and encourage you and I am so glad, even if you won’t remember in years to come, that I can in some way be one of them.

For some of you I see from my spot on the sidelines as your child becomes friends with other children in the pediatric oncology center. And I am happy for them to make a connection with someone that seems “just like them” in a world where they probably feel very different. The next thought I have is wondering how many people have kids on that floor of the hospital and why it has to be a thing. What if we lived in a world where there was no pediatric oncology center?

I’m happy to hear about your good days and sad when you share about your bad days. I am reminded that there is still so much life to be had, and amazing memories to be made, even if you have cancer. When you shared those photos of your child’s make a wish trip I was happy for your child that they were able to have a really great day, but my heart still ached a little for what you are going through.

I am thrilled when you say that your little one is in remission and you don’t have to go back for months to check and maybe you can move on from this darkness. Though I imagine that for many of you, there is always some fear there. Even when they say “cured”, even when they say “remission,” it must still be nerve-racking at every follow up appointment and round of testing.

I have seen some of your children have the cancer come back and then the whole thing starts all over again.

I want you to know that I am so sorry for what you are going through. I am so sorry I do not know just what to say, so I talked too much and said the wrong thing. I hope for the best, and even if you don’t have the same beliefs as me, I prayed for you, because it is something I can do when I feel so helpless. Also I pray, because I believe in its power.

national cancer awareness day with leukemia ribbonToday is National Cancer Awareness day, and I want you to know, that for me at least, I never forgot about you. I appreciate you keeping us informed in whatever way you choose to do it and I totally understand if you just don’t want to talk about it anymore.

As a young woman I remember looking around at my group of friends and wondering who we would marry or how many kids we would have or where we would live. I knew the world was full of possibilities, but I didn’t imagine any of the heart aches we would go through. I certainly never imagined cancer. I’m glad it wasn’t a heaviness that I had to carry with me in my youth, also I am glad no one interrupted my wandering thoughts with logic and reason that perhaps even the happiest of lives have some dark days in them.

I am so very aware of cancer. I am aware of you, and I am in awe of you.

Thank you for sharing your journey.

Be Blessed

When My Life is Like A Storm
Thought of the Day

A couple weeks ago South Carolina experienced so much rain that we experienced unprecedented flooding.

I always feel like it is easy to find out what was destroyed, but not so easy to find out how people are recovering afterward. I have spent a lot of time praying for the businesses that have been closed and the people who have been displaced, and burdened with repairs.

I keep hearing the same lyrics as I think of those affected.

when my life is like a storm rising water all I want is the shore you say - addison road lyrics“When my life is like a storm, rising waters all I want is the shore. You say I’ll be ok and make it through the rain. You are, my shelter from the storm.”

Really I love this whole song by Addison Road, but this particular part of it seems to be imprinted in my mind lately.

It’s one of those funny adages that has no biblical roots “God will not give you more than you can handle.” I think many of us can testify that saying is completely inaccurate.

Although I do love that song with Chris August “He Said.” Which has a similar testament. You know, on the off chance you got that message from God during your time with Him and He did in fact say anything similar to those lyrics, plus it has a good beat.

It’s funny how when spending time praying for others, I came out feeling better about my life and my burdens. I don’t have it altogether, (except for my outfits – those are on point you guys) much the opposite, but whatever my lot, I always praise Him.

whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say it is well with my soul

Perhaps the Lord has given this to me for comfort because of my absolute refusal to pray for myself. Most often, I just, want for nothing so badly I feel like it is worth bringing it up to the Lord. I simply feel like I have everything, and I am so grateful for what I have been given. I desire to be better at everything in my life, and I do that by serving Him in even the small moments with my family. I instead use my prayer time to pray for others, especially my children. I feel like God has me taken care of, and if that changes or I need prayer for a specific matter, I will pray for myself, and ask for the prayers of others, but that just isn’t where I am right now.

It is true that He may, at times, give me much more than I can take. However, what I find most important to remember in those difficult times, is that God has a plan for me, God is ever with me, and the Lord strengthens me.

So a couple new pretties for my Pinterest board, hope they are an encouragement to you as well.

 

 

Making Today Count

I have been working on some wall decorations for our school room. It is difficult for me renting again, I feel like I cannot add the beautiful decorative pieces that make my house feel like a home, because it is temporary.

When we bought our house a couple of years ago I went all out with paint and wall stickers and lamps and everything you would imagine to make my children’s rooms perfect. Meanwhile, I had hand me down curtains and mismatched end table (still have those). Always keeping in mind what I would do to decorate my room when it was time.

The Lord only knows the plans he has for my family and less than 2 years after we purchased our first home we find ourselves renting again. I am a project kind of person, and I keep pretty busy on projects between laundry and the blog, and constant attempts at improving the character of myself and my family. I like to decorate the house though, I like to make wall art and spray paint and hot glue things. If only I desired to put that same type of energy into cooking.

I decided to try to limit the amount that I decorate the house, but not complete go without decorating. I have purchased some curtains and some wall art, and am pretty well pleased with the overall look of the living spaces. It is not how I would make it look if it was my permanent home, but it is not barren. My children’s rooms are just their beds and dressers and toys. Their rooms do not have wall art or decals or decorations, (that they would most likely break), but I find that they spend most of the day in the downstairs or ground level of the house anyway, probably because that is where the food is.

We have an extra bedroom downstairs that we are using as a school room. It is meant to be a secondary master so it has a bathroom in it, which is nice because my kids could really disappear into the bathroom during our home school time.

I bought the cheeriest turquoise and white chevron curtains for the room and we have a white child size table in the middle of the room with yellow and blue chairs and I am trying to make the room a wonderful cheery place because it is where we spend most of our time.

I made a bright and cheerful button tree for the wall in the school room. The wall art is on canvas which is perfect because it will easily transfer to the next place we live, unlike the cherry blossom wall decals we had in the girls room previously. All those tiny pink flowers were left behind.

I have started working on some canvas Dr. Seuss wall art items that should hit the blog in a few weeks. In my constant web searching for what colors I wanted to use I came across the most brilliant Dr. Seuss quote I have perhaps ever seen, and I love many.

today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered dr. seuss quoteI couldn’t wait to make it into a graphic. “Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will remembered.”

Reminds me very much of these verses from the book of Lamentations 3:22-23 – It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. (23) They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

I love mornings. Maybe it is because I get to sleep until 8 am. My husband is not a fan, but he gets up a lot earlier than me.

Seriously though, there is such joy in my heart when I wake up each day knowing that today I can do it better than I did yesterday. I often go to bed feeling disappointed that I didn’t get enough done, or that I was short tempered with my family. When I go to bed at night though, I have a hopeful feeling.

I know I am weird going to sleep feeling all hopeful about my ability to do a better job with my laundry the next day. I am not the only person who is constantly trying to figure out how to make the laundry less of a struggle. I haven’t figured it out yet you guys, but one of these tomorrows is going to be the day I come up with the idea on how to get the laundry to stop running my life. I am hopeful.

I just thought this Dr. Seuss quote captured that hopeful feeling I have perfectly. I am definitely going to add this to a set of planner stickers, and perhaps it will find it’s way into my work space.

Many mornings I pray for wisdom and patience, because I desire to have a happy peaceful day with my children. I want to go to sleep feeling content about what I have accomplished and how I treated the people I love. I often find myself frustrated when my children are not getting along because sometimes punishments are inevitable. (and that ruins the plan I had for having the perfect day; I may have some issues with having to be in control, but that is for another day) Thank God for tomorrow and a new start and a chance to be better. Also, thank him for today, when I did my very best, and hopefully learned something I can use to make myself better in the future.

I am trying to teach my children that every day when they wake up they have a new chance. They can be the kind, caring, helpful person Mommy knows that they can be. A lot of days it goes really well, at least for a while. Love my kids and I cannot imagine what my life would be like if there wasn’t a little one jumping on my furniture, and it occurs to me that some day (Lord willing) that will be true.

I know some parents that don’t mind when the kids jump on the furniture, or when they get into loud disagreements. I am still learning everyday with parenting. I feel badly sometimes because I often have no idea how to deal with a situation. I am so glad I go to a church filled with God fearing mothers who can give me advice. Some things you just cannot prepare for. Once I have been through it though I am a better person, and I am better prepared for the next time.

Thank you Dr. Seuss I will live today as if it is the day that people will remember me by.

Be inspired, you are amazing and you can do this.

There Will Come A Day
Spiritual Saturday

love has come lyrics, But I know there will come a day when all our tears are washed away, with a break in the clouds, his glory coming down and in that moment

So I know it is Monday, but recently I have had to watch a lot of my friends (and some new acquaintances I am working on being friends with) grieve some awful losses. It is always hard for me to witness another mother experiencing the loss of her own child. I surely do not understand the ways of God, and I try not to question them, but I fall short of this goal occasionally.

When I take time to pray for my grieving friends I try to always take a few moments and listen to an uplifting song when I am finished because I want to purposefully in my heart, avoid being consumed with the sadness of the loss, I want to be grateful for the hope we have in His promise.

I am not sure what plan God has for these special ones that He took to come home with Him, but I will be looking forward to seeing them reunited with their families on the other side of eternity. In the meantime I wanted to share with you the above graphic which are the lyrics to a song that can often be heard playing at my church.

This song is called “Love has Come”  performed by Mark Schultz and I encourage you to go and listen to it. Thank God for a place called heaven where tears shall not fall.

What songs do you use to lift you up when you sad?

Thought of the Day

This song lyric from “Greater” is sometimes just the pick me up I need to remind me that my Savior loves me despite my faults (and I have many). Every day I wake up and ask for patience and wisdom as I raise my children.

I am not sure what “kind” of parent I am supposed to be, I have some goals of the type of loving discipline I would like to use to correct my children, but find myself frustrated often as it seems to be impossible to reason with children that are that ages that mine are.

This song gives me a little spiritual boost and I put it on as I’m vacuuming sometimes, and it feels like a mid day reset button. Just have to remind myself that I am good enough, and I can do this (because He is with me).

Greater lyrics performed by MercyMe. There'll be days I lose the battle Grace says that it doesn't matter 'cause the cross already won the warWhen I don’t hit that self imposed mark of perfection, I remember that tomorrow is another day to be #winning again.

There are so many phrases in this song that speak to me. I just got this lovely watercolor flower clipart and I am thinking as a project I will take the phrases from the “Greater” song and make it as a set of stickers to go all across my weekly spread. Nothing like a song lyric about a war surrounded by beautiful girly flowers.

I needed this song this week while my husband is out of time and my kids were sick and I was utterly overwhelmed by my inablilty to be the parent I desire to be.

I will stop there and hopefully I will be back with more lovely graphics for this song that touches my heart and uplifts my spirit.

We’ll tag this under Spiritual Saturday (on a Tuesday)!

You all know the struggle is real, hoping to be back on track next week when things are back to our kind of normal at my house.

 

 

 

 

Following God Outside My Comfort Zone
Spiritual Saturday

I am pretty well aware that it is Sunday and the way things are going around here, I won’t be too surprised if this doesn’t hit the blog til Monday. The busy life of parenting 4 children makes it always a little tricky to find time to do much else besides cook and clean and care for the children, but I try to make time for the things that are important. I forget however how long it takes to put together quality material for this place.

I went through something recently (very recently) that is worth sharing. I am blessed and I like telling people how lucky I am. I think sometimes we let fear get the better of us. What joy we have on the other side of fear, when we realize that our Father was always with us. Love Him. So let’s get to all the mushy sharing, shall we

follwing god outside my comfort zone title image smartandsavvymom -The Lord, um, surprised me recently. I’m not like a weird spooky Christian who thinks they hear the big booming voice of God appear to me in my bedroom when I pray. I am open minded enough to consider that maybe that has happened to someone, but so far no one has told me so. I also don’t, hear him clearly and casually appear to me when I’m brushing my teeth, and am less open minded to that scenario, by the way.

None the less, I do sometimes feel that the Lord is urging me to do certain things. Major decisions, sure, but also in little things, for example deciding what to fast and for how long during the Daniel fast at our church recently.

Anyway, recently I felt the Lord’s quiet urging to do something that was way outside of my comfort zone. I didn’t want to do it and it was very much out of character for me. In fact, it was so far out of character that I was sure I was wrong. I pretty much dismissed it as a crazy idea I had. I took a second to try and think if it would even be something I was interested in, and truth was not that much. So I went back to life.

Didn’t say anything to anybody, just went back to life as usual. I was pretty surprised to find that the crazy idea I had couldn’t be shaken. What’s a girl to do? I prayed. If I’m wishing again, I would wish I could tell you I prayed something honorable in that moment. Instead, I prayed something much more human. I prayed to be let off the hook. I prayed that it would be somehow revealed to me that the quiet urging was just a delusion. I wanted to be ‘told’ that I didn’t have to do this thing that would be hard for me.

I prayed and prayed, but it turned out the Lord didn’t change his mind.

So then I had to listen to God. I chuckle to myself as I am writing this. I was so afraid of how things would turn out, that I wouldn’t obey him.

I knew better, but I just thought I had good reasons.

If you are sitting in your seat in suspense wondering how bad it was, I won’t keep you in suspense. Many people would think that I was making something out of nothing. Well how it was, was worse than I could have ever imagined (haha) but really, I’m not kidding.

I’m smiling writing about it now, but it was super terrible. I suffered, shame, embarrassment, doubt, and great sadness. All those things I was worried about, most of them happened.

On this side of the experience though, I am glad I obeyed God. I am not dying to go through something like that again, but I am better because of it. I didn’t fall apart, I didn’t die, I’m just — I’m fine. I am really okay with how everything turned out, which is the great joy of knowing you were doing something He wanted. He was in control the whole time, so I believe that things turned out just how he wanted them to. I know more things about myself now, wonderful things I didn’t know before.

One of the things that I learned during this experience as to Trust God.

what time I am afraid smartandsavvymom kjv bible verse psalm 56:3It is easy to say, “I always trust Him,” but in practice it is much harder.

I’m not saying I will never question Him again, or even that I haven’t since. My faith is increased however, I trust him more.

I was reminded that He is greater.

Greater is he verse 1john4-4 smartansavvymom
I was counting on myself. I was thinking of how strong I am, or more accurately how weak. I was being selfish. I was sure that I would fall apart, and even if I did for a moment the Lord was there to comfort me when I needed Him, and He is all I need.

I must remember that He is greater, thankfully.

Lastly, I was able to experience the great peace that He can provide. It is singularly unique. I was tormenting myself, and He knew his plans for me all along. There is no real way to describe how I feel about it now, except to say, “peaceful.”

great peace have they that smartandsavvymom

When I lay my head down tonight, I will be so happy and at peace. I will be excited to head back to the place where all that terrible stuff happened. I will go there smiling. When does the Lord ever really ask us to do something very easy? We’re going to be fine though, because He is greater. So much greater.

Perhaps the greatest thing of all is having Him feel so real to me. I just love the Lord.

I am not one to share my feeling so let me wrap this up quickly.

I hope you will not let fear make decisions for you. What can we know of things we do not dare to try? There are worse things than failure. That feeling in the pit of my stomach from when I felt like was disobeying God, that is gone. In its place is great joy and peace.

What was the last thing you did that was scary??