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 February, I made the difficult decision to give up social media for personal use. I had many reasons for doing so, and even though I felt it was a good step to take, I was nervous. Would I feel completely alienated from everyone? Would I miss important updates from friends with whom I was only connected on Facebook? Would eliminating my personal accounts give me the peace of mind I hoped it would?
It's been a year since I gave it up, and I'm pleased to report that the world didn't end without me. :) In all seriousness, though, I learned several valuable lessons from my social media hiatus.
Two of the spark plugs were running in the house. One child was playing harmonica at full volume. All four were shouting gleefully into walkie talkies that were adding annoying white-noise static to the din. And I had a headache the size of Texas (not related to the chaotic noise but definitely exacerbated by it).
"Guys!!" I shouted, trying to make myself heard over the clamor. "CUT! IT! OUT!!!!" I roared.
Mama Bear had had enough, thank you very much.
It was only after my explosion that I learned that my neighbor, who had given the kids their walkie talkies, had her own set and was on the frequency chatting away with them. When I'd blown my top like an explosive volcano, she'd probably heard every angry word.
I've yet to meet anyone who thinks there is plenty of time to get things done. Whether you have a day job, a special hobby, or specific ministry, it can be hard to make sure that you're keeping a healthy balance with the various things you need to do every day.
In fact, as I've worked on my marriage, my parenting, my blog, and my other obligations, more and more, I'm finding I have to work at keeping that healthy balance. It isn't something that comes together naturally.
The first time I heard the "rocks in a jar" analogy, I was intrigued. The idea of prioritizing my goals and obligations made complete sense. It was certainly true that unless I put my "big rocks" in my life's jar first, I would never be able to fit in the pebbles, sand, and water as well. And so, for a long time, I was quite content with the standard "rocks in a jar" analogy.
As I've grown older and my spiritual walk has deepened, however, I've begun to wonder if we as believers are looking at our rocks in the wrong light.
For my birthday posts the past couple of years, I've shared about different quirks that make me who I am (you can see those posts here and here). This year, I decided to shake things up a bit and share instead 36 of my favorite verses and why they are significant to me!
Toward the end of 2016, I was almost dreading the start of another year. It wasn't that the closing year had been bad; in fact, it had been a really good one. But I was worried about goal-setting, or, more accurately, goal-failing.
It happened every year: I would heroically set goals in January - new habits I wanted to develop, besetting sins I hoped to conquer - only to have reality set in around the end of February when I hadn't made any progress. Ultimately, with feelings of frustration and failure, I'd throw up my hands and give up on accomplishing any of my goals for that particular year.
I love the Christmas season. The colors, the smells, the excitement - it's all wonderful to me. And as a believer who understands the true importance of Christmas - Christ's incarnation - this time of year is definitely my favorite. I'm reminded of all that we have to be thankful for, of all that Christ has done for us.
Sometimes, though, the holidays can be difficult. The pain of a lost loved one can be exacerbated during the holidays. The frustrations of financial difficulties are only augmented in the face of Christmas. And illness or depression don't suddenly disappear or get better simply because everyone else is festive.
No matter what your current season in life - visible blessings or constant struggle - there are at least four things we can all be grateful for this Christmas.
This weekend, my family reached an incredible milestone: my oldest spark plug became a teenager! Looking back, I'm not exactly sure how we got here. There were so many days during the toddler years that seemed to drag on forever, and yet somehow, the years simultaneously flew by. It's certainly true what they say about the days being long but the years short!
I felt like I should be able to write something profound about parenting a thirteen-year-old, but since I only have about 4 days' experience to draw from, I decided instead to let God's Word do the sharing instead.
Some years ago, I was talking with our pastor's wife about the lean years when they were first married and he was still in seminary. She commented, "That Christmas, so many of our friends were talking about getting new furniture or something else big like that, but I would have given anything just to have a new potato peeler!"
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just behind us (do I hear a collective sigh of relief?), you may be feeling overwhelmed with the "lightning deals" and "special steals" that were plastered absolutely everywhere. Maybe you were able to snag a few Christmas gifts at unbeatable prices. Perhaps you were even able to splurge on an item or two.
But maybe you're in a situation where all you want this Christmas is a new potato peeler.
Today, we have a special treat here on the blog! In honor of National Adoption Month, blogger Naomi from Living Out 127 is sharing about her family's experience with foster care. And I couldn't be more blessed to have her here.
Adoption is something close to my heart. Not only have I been adopted into the family of God through Christ's work on the cross, Jon and I have been praying about the possibility of becoming adoptive parents, too. I don't know how the Lord will lead us, but if He chooses to open the door to adopt, we will be thrilled!
Adoption and foster care come with a lot of uncertainty - it definitely can be considered one of life's hallways! Naomi raises and excellent question below: what if fostering a child causes our other children difficulty? It's definitely something to consider, and she does an excellent job of sharing how her family handled this delicate situation.