Come Sit With Me

It was early December a few years ago.  Tim and I were riding down the road.  I was in the passenger’s seat with pen and paper as we discussed what we wanted to buy our people for Christmas that year.  The issue we were having was that our loved ones basically have everything they need and most of what they want.  We were straining our brains trying to come up with things to spend our money on that may or may not be wanted or even appreciated.

In that moment, something came over me.  It was as if God was cracking open the door, ever so slightly, and giving me a glimpse into the life of a single parent.  For just a brief moment in time, my feelings shifted from strain and frustration to desperation and worry.  I saw a flash of faces, all of the single parents in my life.  Like a dream that only lasts about 30 seconds but would take 30 minutes to describe.  It drove me to tears.

That moment was life changing for me.  I began asking myself what I could do to come alongside single parents to encourage them.  Little did I know that God was going to blow the doors off of my small minded thinking.  Not because I’m someone special, but because these parents are.

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Genesis 2:18 NIV

Unfortunately, the perfect world He originally intended is no longer in existence.

Does it matter why they are a single parent?  Only to God.  It’s not our business.

God is looking for people who are willing to leave the comfort of their own friendship circles and embrace these single parents.  I am sure of it.

Those who are reading this and are married, take a journey with me for just a moment…What if you were suddenly left alone to care for your home and children?

  • Who would help you clean house, buy groceries and shuffle kids to the ball park on a typical Saturday…after putting in a 40+ hour work week?
  • Who would share yard work with you?
  • Who would help you pay your bills and save for a vacation?
  • Who would pick up your kids from school when you’ve been in bed with a fever all day?
  • Who would let you get a little sleep when you’ve been rocking a sick baby for 2 days?
  • Who would tag team parent with you when your teenager starts to rebel?
  • Who would help you on Sunday mornings to get the kids up, fed and ready for church–on time?
  • Who would you sit with in church on Sunday morning while your children were in their own classes?
  • Who would you tell about the day you’ve had at work after you’ve finally gotten the kids to do their homework, shower and get to bed?

Who?

I’ve never been a single parent but I’ve had the privilege to come alongside many and observe and participate in life with them.  They are strong.  They are over-comers.  They inspire me.

Single parent

I’ve personally been asked, and told, by single parents…

  • Can I sit with you in church so I’m not sitting alone?
  • Can you go to court with me? I don’t want to face my ex husband alone.
  • Can you arrange a time for me to meet other single moms in my area? I don’t really know any.
  • My car is in the shop, can you pick me up Sunday for church?
  • I don’t feel comfortable in Sunday school with all of the married couples; can you help me study my Bible?
  • I’ve been sick for 3 days and my kids are living off of microwave popcorn and Capri sun!
  • I’m looking for a second job so that I can afford to buy Christmas for my kids this year.

 

 “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.”

Mark 9:41 NIV

Our response…

  • Yes you can sit with me; I’ll save you a seat!
  • When is that date? I’ll do whatever I can to support you.
  • Let’s put something on the calendar. I’ll gather some help and provide some childcare and we will make it a girl’s night!
  • I’ll be there at 10:30.
  • Yes! What do you want to learn about?  I’ll pick us up a study guide and we’ll get started.
  • I’ll bring you dinner tomorrow night, while I’m there, I’ll help you fold clothes too.
  • I know people who have more money than they know what to do with. Let me see what we can do to help. Do NOT take time away from your kids to buy them STUFF!  We’ll work this out, that’s what the church is for, and I’ll be in touch.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.

Psalm 68:5 NIV

Can we make the effort to reach out?  Single parent families can benefit greatly from spending time with families where both parents are present.  Their kids can see what a two parent household looks like.  Single moms and dads can ask for advice and even give it to two parent homes.  They’ve had to be creative in ways that two parent homes don’t have to be.  They have a lot to offer.  We can learn from each other. They don’t want pity.  They need us.  We need them.

Let’s step from our comfort zones.

Speak up.

Reach out.

Follow through.

Especially at this time of year.

Who can you ask to sit with you this Sunday?  Start there.

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Finding Hope In the Hallway

We’ve all stood in the proverbial hallway.  Waiting on doors to open.  Not knowing which door to choose.  Putting our hand on the handle only to find that it’s locked.  Listening to what’s going on behind closed doors, trying to discern if that’s our cue to move on or move in.

Waiting…waiting…waiting…  Crickets.

What do we do while in that hallway?  When we are waiting and wondering and even worrying about which direction to go or if we should pull harder on the handle…how do we wait…and do it well?

 

Hallways can seem dark and narrow.  There aren’t any windows.  They can seem lonely.  Stuffy.  Even dingy.

But, look around you.  In that hallway, that place of holding and waiting and wondering.

Raise up your chin and look around.

I bet there are family photos hanging on those walls, telling story after story of God’s faithfulness.  New babies being born into young excited families.  School pictures depicting proud young children sporting their braces and glasses.  Families of 4 or 6 or 8 or more posing together to capture that time in their lives that they will never get back again.

A few steps away, there’s another framed memory but this one is from a trip taken with a loved one.  Maybe a sunrise or sunset.  Perhaps it’s just two smiling faces exploring new lands, tasting new foods, getting good rest in the midst of recreation.

You spot another picture.  A photo of someone who left a legacy in your family.  One of dedication to God.  A man or woman of great faith who taught their children who taught their children how to pray.

Take another step or two.  A hall table sits with an open Bible and a pair of old reading glasses placed right on top.  Scripture has been underlined in red on pages that are soiled from oily fingers and tear stains.  Perhaps a metal cross hangs above that table.  A reminder of God’s love for us that is so vast we can not even comprehend it all.

**In Acts 1 and 4 Jesus tells his followers to wait on the arrival of the Holy Spirit

**In Psalm 37 and 7 David tells us to be still and wait patiently for the Lord

**In Deuteronomy Moses leads God’s chosen people around the desert for 40 years before their arrival at the Promised Land

**In Genesis Abraham had to wait 25 years before having the child God had promised him

Waiting on the Lord is nothing new.  But, there is purpose in it so embrace it.  Learn from it.  Grow in it.

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.”

Psalm 130:5

What do you see in your hallway?  Where has God been faithful to you in the past?  What lessons has He taught you?  Whose legacy can you follow while you wait?

When we’re in a holding pattern, let’s look around and take note of the snap shots of God’s faithfulness in our lives.  Every memory, every recollection of God’s hand at work in our past.  Let’s take the time to thank Him.  Praise Him!

hope-in-the-hallway

As you lean against the wall, slide down and take a seat. Grab a journal and a pen and begin writing down those stories.  As you take in the sights, reminiscing on how God has built your faith over the years, tell Him how thankful you are.

When we take our focus off of those closed doors, something happens.  Our eyes shift to the walls which are graced and laced with memories and memorials all pointing us back to God’s faithfulness.

When we meditate on Him and His steadfast love for us in the past, we are reminded that a door will open when He’s ready to reveal what’s behind it.  When we are ready to receive what’s there.

Until then, there’s hope in the hallway.  Let’s get so lost in praising Him for His faithfulness that we have trouble even focusing on closed doors.  I believe sometimes he closes us off so that He can have us all to Himself.  So He can point us to His faithfulness and grace.  So He can have our undivided attention.

Let’s take a few deep breaths.  Raise up our eyes and slowly look around.

Hope resides where you are.  Jesus Christ is our hope and He is there with you.  With me.  In your past, in your present, He’s behind those closed doors and His words are at your fingertips.

Let’s lace our fingers around His.  Turn the pages, read and meditate on Him in the here and now.  Let’s think back on His faithfulness through generations past with laughter and tears and contemplation as we wait.

For the waiting is temporary.  A hallway is merely an avenue which leads us somewhere else.  Somewhere different.

What He intends for us will come to pass in His timing.

And we need to be ok with that.

Let’s be ok with that, shall we?

Reflect & Respond:

**Think to a time that you waited on the Lord to move, and He DID!

**Take time to reminisce on what He taught you in the waiting and thank Him for it.

Praying we all learn to wait well,

Kellie

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Be Kind To Yourself

Jesus told a lot of stories using agricultural references to make His points so that people could easily relate.

He talked about soil.

He talked about planting seeds.

He talked about watering.

He talked about being rooted.

He talked about pruning.

He talked about harvesting.

 

We talk a lot about planting seeds into the lives of other people.  The words we use, the actions we take to show how we really feel about someone or what we think they’re worth.

 

Have you ever given thought to what we plant into our own lives?

 

Do we scatter healthy thoughts like these into ourselves?

**Words of bravery and strength whispered under our breath when we feel weak

**Taking time to care for and love ourselves…spending time alone or with friends, getting that pedicure, lifting those weights, reading a good book, getting good sleep

**Are we quick to forgive ourselves when we mess things up, extending the same grace to ourselves that we would give to our loved ones?

**Seeds of “You can do this!”?

**Words of kindness when we look in the mirror and don’t like what we see…words like “beautiful”, “able”, “strong”, “work in progress”, “capable”

 

Or

 

**Do we punish ourselves with words like “what’s wrong with me?”

**Do we dwell on the past and let it stunt our spiritual growth?

**Have we let seeds of bitterness take root and contaminate the soil of our soul?

**Do we look in the mirror or at the scale and chastise ourselves (me) for enjoying an ice cream with our child?

 

We have to be intentional with what we plant in our hearts.  If the Holy Spirit lives there, He deserves the best, and He only wants the best for you and me.

 

If you wouldn't say it to a friend

I have this on my bulletin board in my office.

When my work is going slow or my pants are feeling too tight or I’ve blown it with one of my children or I’m wrecked with worry over a situation I can’t control…I’m working on planting good seed into my own soil.

We have to be intentional.

Storms will come and force us to react.  Let’s protect the good seeds we’ve planted.  Fight for them.  Let’s not allow our temporary circumstances to rip our seeds of truth from the soil of our souls.

People will come and try to trample on that which we’ve planted.  We can post a “no trespassing” sign.

Drought will creep in.  Let’s recognize it quickly and reach back for the living water which is God’s word.

Bad seed can be thrown on us by others.  It can take root before we’ve realized it’s there.  Get out the hoe and get that out before its roots go too deep!

 

We have to be patient with ourselves.

Sometimes…some dreams…some desperate prayers…they need to work underground before they can burst forth.

A wounded heart may take some time before it is healed.

Bad self-esteem can steer us wrong more times than we’d like to admit before that seed has been removed.

The soil of our heart may need tending to.  Ten good seeds for every one bad.

We have to be hopeful.

We have a Master Gardner who knows exactly when those seeds will sprout.  He tells us in His word how to care for what has been planted inside of us.

He won’t let any good seed go to waste, we can count on that.

His words are the good seed.  We can’t rely on people for this.  Our worth, our purpose, our courage, it all comes from Him.  All of it!

 

“…my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:11

That which has been planted through the leading of the Word will eventually bloom.  It will eventually show itself.  And, it will be good.

Very good.

So let’s be kind to ourselves.  Let’s remind each other to be kind to ourselves girls!  Let’s remember whose we are and that He thinks the world of us.  We don’t like seeing our own children beating themselves up when they’re feeling a little low, so let’s not do it to ourselves.

We are children of The Most High, daughters of the King chosen before the beginning of time to come into the family of God!

Let that sink in…

Reflect and Respond:

*What are some  ways you can plant “good seed” into your own life?  Here are two good seeds to get you started.

 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us…”

I John 3:16a

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.”
Psalm 139:14

 

*What are some bad seeds that were scattered into your life that resulted in something beautiful?

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Genesis 50:20

Praying for us all to prune away the bad, water the good and to be selective in the planting,

Kellie

Passing Through Troubled Waters Without Getting Sea Sick

Have you ever just taken a step back from your life and looked around and thought “what in the world is going on here?”

Life is good.  I’m breathing, I’m healthy and I’m blessed.

But…

Recently, whilst in my own little bubble, doing what I do on a daily basis, I realized that very near to me there were storms just a brewing.  I was seeing through my pereferial vision a little here and a little over there.  Cue the wind, cue the rain and cue the thunder.

We’ve rowed our little boat of life through storms before, but never like this.  Suddenly I realized we had things brewing in all four corners and it wasn’t going to be enough to just grab a paddle and make our way through.  At least, not a quick pass.

These storms, these challenges, were not going to be fixed with a three step program.or just blow through quickly like a Summer pop-up storm.

They may take some time.

In the midst of storms, in the midst of blinding rain and giant waves that bring on fear and nausea…don’t we want to grab hold of something solid?  Something unswerving?  Then, to squeeze tightly and refuse to let go?

 

When the initial shock and reality sinks in that storms will be walked through, our bodies can react before our brains process.  Ever experienced this?  Mind numbing moods…blank stares…deep, distracting thoughts…muscle tension…even nauseau (I hope that’s not just me lol).

After realizing I was in danger of being tossed to and fro by some of life’s storms, I knew that I had better get a game plan together.

I dug deep into scripture.  I grabbed onto Jesus and His words and refused to let go without seeking wise counsel.  He’s my anchor.  He can be your anchor too.

And ya’ll, He’s faithful.

He.  Doesn’t.  Swerve.

As I read, wrote, prayed and read some more, I realized just how good I had had it for so long.  The gentle waves of life had lulled me into a rut.  A place where I could manage things just fine with very little help.

Now I was feeling like the person sitting on the edge of one of those blobs at summer camp and I had just been shot helplessly into the air.  Kinda like this lady, only I wasn’t smiling!

blob

 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13

I’m a visual person, here’s what I began to see as I scurried to Him for protection from these storms.

As a believer, a child of God, a christian, I’m not in a little dinghie in the middle of the sea all alone.  I’m on a big ship with God as the Captain.  A large vessel that is incapable of sinking because the one who crafted the ship is the same one who created and controls the waves and wind.  I see myself now looking over the rail, peering down at what has me bewildered, standing on the solid ground of faith.

When we are battling storms and feeling overwhelmed and afraid, He says “fear not”.  He says “trust me and I will fill you with joy and peace”.

Maybe you are facing an approaching storm.  You can see it coming and there is nothing you can do about it.  Or maybe you’re already in it.  You feel helpless, a little beat up and afraid that you’ll get knocked in the head with flying debris.  Or, you’ve been in a storm for a while and you’re just tired.  Feeling hopeless.

Like those people who are lost at sea in their little yellow rafts, you want to just lie back, close your eyes and hope it all goes away.

And what do we do in the meantime?  Sit?  Cry?  Pout?  Complain?  Moan?  Whoa.  Is.  Me.

No.

Believers…we know the Captain.  We know the maker of the wind and waves.  He allows trials and tribulations to come if they will draw us closer to Him.  If they will throw a light in His direction, pointing others His way.  Our momentary troubles have purpose.  A purpose greater than we will ever know in its entirity.  So for now, it’s  not about us, IT’S ALL ABOUT HIM (It may come as a shock that our lives aren’t all about us to some, but it’s the truth)!

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

We know that trials will come.  Let’s be ready.  Let’s read the manual, get close to the Captain and listen and follow His instructions.  Let’s put on our protective gear.  Let’s rally with our fellow brothers and sisters and encourage and pray and advise and focus on the joy that is offered in the middle of these storms of life.

Let’s thank Him for the shelter He offers in the storms.

Let’s thank Him for keeping us on track during blinding rains.

Let’s thank Him for comforting us when the thunder claps catch us off guard.

These storms are temporary.

I guarantee it…better yet…HE guarantees it 😉

Praying that we all choose HIM when the storm clouds begin to gather,

Blessings,

Kellie