Life is full of hallways - those times between God's closing doors and opening windows. Find Biblical encouragement for your own season of struggle by visiting the blog, stopping by the shop, or subscribing to our members' page. Let's praise Him in the waiting!
Last week, my post "Is It Sinful for Christians to be on Government Aid?" went viral (or what is viral for me - I got more pageviews in one day than I usually get all year). In that post, I opened up about my insecurities about receiving help from our local social services office. Being on government assistance is often frowned upon, and wondering whether or not it was against God's Word was was a question I'd personally wrestled with. I felt it was a fitting post to share on the Hallway Initiative since many of us here have struggled with or are still in the throes of financial hardship.
And the post blew up...for all the wrong reasons.
Does joy seem elusive when you're traveling through a long hallway? Do you feel like you've lost your sparkle when life gets tough?
There are many times in life when we don't feel like rejoicing, and certainly the Bible indicates that will be seasons of sadness. But as I've thought about and prayed over the direction of the blog, I'm realizing that I want to take some time to focus on developing a habit of joyful thanksgiving in addition to our posts on suffering.
After all, as Christians, we have the hope of Eternal Life, where we will spend forever with the Lord! All of our struggles here on Earth should pale as mild afflictions in comparison to the joy of Eternity with God.
When we first moved to the Bay Area, money was tight. We stressed over whether or not we could buy groceries or pay our rent. And although the Lord graciously met our needs every single time, that phase of life was anything but easy.
One of the ways God provided for us was through various government assistance plans. From subsidized housing to Medi-Cal, my state's version of Medicare, we received quite a bit of help from these kinds of government programs.
And I hated every minute we were on them.
I think many of us who grew up in Christian homes came to believe that accepting help from the government was wrong or sinful. Since God's Word commands husbands to provide for their families, maybe we've just assumed that taking "handouts" of any sort is somehow evading this Biblical mandate. Whatever the root cause, it felt wrong to me to be on these programs, at least at first.
In Part 1 of the Mommy Guilt series, we tackled ungodly Mommy Guilt - the negative thoughts that the devil uses in an attempt to undermine our God-given parenting abilities. But as I mentioned in that first post, there are actually two different kinds of Mommy Guilt.
And today, I want to confront the second kind of Mommy Guilt - the God-given kind.
Yes, there is such a thing as Godly Mommy Guilt! This type of Mommy Guilt is the inner twang of conviction that the Holy Spirit gives when we're not being Godly parents. Do you ever feel a pang of guilt about not spending enough time with your little ones? Are you ever convicted about the way you reacted to your child's disobedience? Are you ever frustrated that you lost your temper (again!) with your kiddos?
Four years ago, I sat dumbfounded in a waiting room while an Urgent Care doctor dropped the bombshell that Turbo had Type 1 Diabetes. That moment was one of the worst of my life, and I had no idea how any good would ever come of it.
But just as God promised, He used it for my good and His glory. And I've shared all the details of that day and others like it in my just-released ebook, "A Place Prepared."
If you've ever felt as though life is too overwhelming or that you were unprepared for the things you've gone through, I encourage you to grab your very own copy. My prayer is that in sharing my story, you'll see echos of your own and be able to see God's hand over every situation in your life.
Everywhere I look, I see bloggers and speakers encouraging mamas to let go of so-called Mommy Guilt. And I'm glad...for the most part. As a mom myself, I know how easy it is to let negativity creep in. Satan has a heyday in my mind, trying to convince me that I'm not a good mom, that I will never succeed as a parent, and that I'll never measure up in society's eyes. The reminders not to succumb to that kind of negative thinking are good and Biblical.
But I've also begun to wonder if, perhaps, I've gotten a little too good at shelving Mommy Guilt. As I've thought through the concept of Mom Guilt, I've come to understand that there actually two different kinds. And if we ignore them both, we're making a big mistake.
On Mother's Day this year, we were on vacation in Monterey. I was loving the family adventures, the sound of the ocean crashing on the beach, and the break from our regular routine. Then, about an hour after we'd gotten up, it became apparent that Baby D had contracted a stomach virus. Ugh.
I wanted to run and hide from the germs and soiled laundry I now needed to wash. And I was certain that in our vacation rooms with no way to isolate D from everyone else, the virus would spread like a wildfire through the family.
But as I gritted my teeth and got started on cleanup (and really, Jon did most of it himself), the Lord showed me just how much I had to be thankful for.
Have you ever wondered why God doesn't speak directly to us the way He used to speak to people in the Old Testament? Jon and I have talked about this many times. And while we don't have specific answers, I've actually wondered if He speaks to us much more directly than we're aware of.
A few weeks back, I was reading in Exodus, and a verse I've read a dozen times or more jumped off the page at me: "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still" (NIV, emphasis added).
Have you ever looked around at everyone else and felt as though your life isn't making any impact? Do you ever feel like no one notices you, or that you need to be making a bigger splash? Or have you ever wondered whether or not you should have earned that extra degree, made that advancement at work, or taken that other path that once called your name?
In a world where higher education, prestigious jobs, and social positions are greatly valued, it's easy for us to wonder if we should be doing more, involved in more, accomplishing more. It's incredibly easy for the stay-at-home mom to wonder whether or not she would be accomplishing more if she were to return to work (especially on those days when the kids have squabbled all day long, dinner is late, and she hasn't had a shower in the past three days).
If you had to take a test on being a good friend to someone else, would you pass? I know I wouldn't. I could blame my introverted personality or my busy schedule. I could say I live too far away or that I didn't want to interrupt someone's day. But those would be excuses, not reasons.
Being a good friend doesn't come easily to me. I've let entire weeks (and in rare occasions, months or even years) go by without checking in on my friends. A lot of that does have to do with my shy nature that thrives best at home, but a lot also comes from being forgetful (and perhaps a little lazy, too).
As a Christian, however, I know that friendships are vital. We need other Christians to come alongside us, support us, and encourage us in God's Word. If we don't actively pursue friendships for these purposes, they won't happen on their own, and we'll lose those opportunities.