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Deep Roots Keep Us Grounded

Have you ever heard the saying “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”?

I  have found in my 40 something years that this is so true.  Even as an adult, I am still faced with decisions that can effect my self-confidence, my conscience, my reputation and even my health.  I’m still learning the importance of knowing who I am and whose I am.

Recently, a friend was faced with harsh words from a critic and her take away was “BE DEEPLY ROOTED!”  Although she felt the sting of being criticized, it did not change the trajectory of her life.  She stood tall and strong because her roots are deeply planted.

 

Tree roots are genetically wired to grow deep.  Did you know that?  They are capable.  The potential is there.  Unfortunately, most roots stay shallow because the conditions aren’t right for deep growth.  Imagine having the ability to grow into deep, never explored before places but being held back because of your surroundings.  I think we can learn something here.

Roots need three things in order to grow to their full potential.

Water.

Soil.

Room.

We aren’t to be planted and become content with shallow roots.  Having shallow roots sets us up for failure.  We will blow over when storms come.  We are more susceptible to rot and disease in our personal lives because we aren’t getting the nutrients that we need to have healthy relationships.   Our security will always be in question.  Smiles will only come on sunny days when there is no threat of being shaken.  We will tremble and doubt at the least bit of drizzle in the forecast.

If we root ourselves in the flesh, whether in others or in our own thinking, we will never be able to sustain ourselves when hard things come our way.  We cannot feed off of others’ compliments and expectations for us.  Flesh is temporary.  Flesh disappoints.  Flesh is imperfect.

Scripture tells us that we need to be rooted and built up in Christ.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”  Colossians 2:6-7

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Having deep roots in Christ results in safety, security and satisfaction.

We need to be deeply rooted in the One who planted us.  The One who has fruit for us to bear.  The One who supplies all that we need to grow.  Water.  Soil.  Room.

“blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
 They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8

When we are rooted deeply in Christ, we are right at home.  He supplies us with nutrients which come from His word.  Oxygen which is the literal breath that you and I are breathing right now.  And room.  Boy, does He give us room to grow!  He desires that we grow in this life as a believer all the way until our physical bodies perish.  To keep moving forward.  To spread our wings and move into places never touched before. He has planted us right where we are and his plans for us involve placing our faith in Him and stretching out into the dark, damp soil where we take light and health.

All the while, as we move and stretch and grow underground in the secret places with the Lord, the fruit we are bearing up top is phenomenal!  Our leaves are green, we will not fear when the heat of life comes our way and we will never fail to bear fruit.

If you are feeling stuck my friend, it may not be because you have hit a rock.  You’ve been given room.  Perhaps when we are having difficulty seeing past our present circumstances, we should take a look at what we are feeding ourselves.  Is it what the world has to offer or are we feasting from the Book of Life that never changes and always has a good return?

Let’s dig in to the Word, be ever thankful for the breath of life that we have, even if just for today, and let’s see where we can go.

I’m praying for us to be discontent with shallow roots, take in a tall drink of God’s word and watch our potential unfold as our roots grow down deep in Him

Kellie

 

 

 

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When Sitting Shoulder to Shoulder is All You Can Do

 

What do we say to someone who has suffered great loss?

How can we adequately express the deep sorrow that we feel for someone when they are in mourning?

I recently had the privilege of hearing someone speak at a Memorial Service and they said something like this…

“What if we all acted like sponges.  When those around us are hurting, we sit close and absorb some of their burdens for them”

That may not sound like a very welcoming invitation, but it has stuck with me.

God’s word says to “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn”.

Merriam Webster says this…

Definition of mourn

intransitive verb

 1.  to feel or express grief or sorrow

 

I love that mourning is a verb.  A feeling that can be expressed and the expression doesn’t have to be with words.  We don’t even have to speak.

We can grieve over many things:

  • A marriage that is ending
  • A healthy body that has now been diagnosed with an illness
  • The loss of a dream
  • Failure of a business
  • Death of a loved one
  • A wayward child
  • A close friendship that is ending
  • A broken heart

 

Here’s where the sponge comes in.

When a loved one is hurting and we lean in and allow ourselves to feel what they feel, we become spongy…absorbent.

When someone is shedding tears we can slide right over and absorb some of that sorrow with them.  And when they are rejoicing we get to soak up some of that exhileration that they are feeling too.

What happens when a sponge takes on water?  It comes to life!

When we allow God to use us, He brings life into our bones.  Like a sponge that puffs out and becomes soft and pleasant to hold on to, we too become a soft place for others to lean in to and we are smack in the middle of where God is working.

This is one way that we help to carry one another’s burdens.

When we become spongy:

  1.  We help soak up some of the sadness in the lives of others and remove it so that they aren’t wading in it from the ankles to their knees, to their waist.
  2.   Like a sponge, we come to life.  As a dry, porous material crashes into wet tears of sorrow, we expand.  Our capacity to take on and take in grief and sadness grows as we become agents of God’s sustaining grace.

Many times when someone near us is going through something hard, it’s easy to become a little gun shy.  To back up and let someone else comfort them.  What would I say?  How can I help?

 

Just.  Show.  Up.

 

It’s okay to not have the right words or not have any words at all.  Slide along side that friend and wrap your arm around them.  Cry and snot and shake with them.  Hold their hand.  Serve them a glass of cold water.  Fold their laundry.  These are all verbs and they do not require words.

God’s word says…

God blesses those people who grieve. They will find comfort!”

Matthew 5:4 

Perhaps God wants to use you to help bring comfort to someone.

Your presence is enough.  It is a gift to those who need help absorbing all that has them wrecked.

A present.

We don’t ask people if they would like to receive a gift, we simply give it.

Don’t let your nerves keep you from moving on this.  If God has put someone on your heart who is grieving something, go to them.  Just show up.

Those are sacred tears they are shedding and you will have the privilege of soaking up some of that grief.  It will bring you to life.  It will bring nourishment to your bones and you will be glad you moved.

May we all strive to be more pourous.  More pliable.  Absorbers.

Agents of grace.

I’m working on this myself and praying that we all step out when necessary.

Challenge:  Is someone in your life grieving and you just don’t know what to do?  Invite them for a walk or take them a meal.  Watch what happens when we slide over close.

Blessings,

Kellie

 

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Finding Strength When You Feel Shaky

As we sat in the snow covered cemetery under a big flapping tent in folding metal chairs, I watched as her hand gingerly reach over to brace herself on the nearby headstone.  She used it as leverage to push herself up out of her chair, into the cold wind, and stand to speak.

My mom.

She’s been battling cancer for the last 18 months.  Weight loss.  Weakness.  Chemo brain.  Wheelchairs, walkers and soft shoes to accommodate swollen feet.  This is a short list of what outsiders have seen.  The list of challenges and set-backs that close friends and family have witnessed is even longer.

But on the day that we memorialized her mother-in-law of some 48 years, my mom found the strength to plan for the service all the way from out of state and get up to speak kind words about my grandmother.

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Strong:  able, sturdy, stable, tough, influential, brave

The strongest women are often draped in humility.  They do what has to be done without a lot of fan fair.  Their strength rises to the surface when life calls upon them to just get it done.

Do you ever look at other women…louder women…and think “why can’t I be strong like that?”

Volume doesn’t always equal strength.

Have you ever seen a woman in a dress suit and sunglasses at Target and thought “she must be important and look at me in my yoga pants and sweats shirt!”

Polish doesn’t always equal importance.

This time of year, I often think of Mary, Jesus’ mother.  She was barely a teenager, no husband and without the Holy scriptures to help fill in the gaps of what was happening to her.  She was not a prominent figure.  She wasn’t the best dressed.  When her home town demanded she travel while pregnant for a census, she didn’t get any special favors.

She was a young girl carrying the full hope of the world inside of her belly.  No bubble wrap around her.  No escorts making her pathway clear.  No reservations made ahead of time for a soft bed and a warm meal.

God given responsibilities don’t always equal special treatment.

She did what had to be done.  Quietly.  Humbly.

Both my mom and Mary.

One only beginning her journey into adulthood.  One who is fighting to remain in hers.

I come from a line of strong women.

If you are a child of God…you do too.

Women who have risked their lives in the name of saving their people (Esther).  Women who chose Jesus over what their entire town would think about them (woman at the well).  Women who left everything familiar in order to do the right thing (Ruth).  Women who let their children go, clinging to their faith, trusting God (Hannah and Jochebed).

 

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Sometimes, the strongest women aren’t the ones on stage, but the ones behind the curtain.  Strong women are sitting bedside with their ailing parents, feeding them ice cream and wiping the corner of their mouths.  Strong women are raising rebellious teenagers and not backing down.  Strong women make hard choices and do hard things, not based on their feelings, but on what is right.  And the strong women that I know…they pull other women along with them to do the hard things and celebrate each time they surprise themselves with their accomplishments.

Each breath that we take is another opportunity to ask the Lord for help and step into the strength that He provides for us.  Sometimes that’s the only prayer we need…to ask for strength, and then move.

Just.

Move.

Scripture:

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”  Psalm 121:1-2

Prayer:

Lord, help us to grasp that when we are at our weakest, You are there with exactly what we need. We are grateful that you don’t require us to be strong before you set our tasks at hand, but that you provide with each step, the strength for every forward movement in our lives.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Kellie

 

 

 

 

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Putting our Thoughts in Their Rightful Place

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Surely he will realize how disruptive he is being.  For heaven’s sake, church has started!  The lights are dimmed.  The opening video is playing.  People are seated quietly.  Why does he keep talking…and laughing…and talking some more?  And who is he talking with?  It takes two, right?  Who is the other person who is not ending the conversation when it is clearly a time to quiet down and pay attention.

I think I may have to get up and punch someone in the face.

I think I will have to quietly slip out of my seat, walk to the back of the sanctuary, tap this man on the shoulder, point his direction to the video screen that is being used at present, then ball up my fist, rare back, and punch him.

Then I will walk back to my seat and try to get my focus back where it should be.

Nope… nope…wait a minute.  It seems that he is finally closing his mouth and going to his own seat.  Lucky for him, huh?

But wait a sec.  I was so caught up in my plan to get violent at church that I totally missed what the video was about.  I just completely missed out on the introduction to our sermon for the morning.

So who is the winner here?  or better yet, who is the loser?

Me.

I’m the loser because I didn’t recognize what was happening sooner and I allowed my thoughts and feelings to lead me down a path that completely distracted me from what was right in front of my face.

And now you know that I think I could get violent if I had too.  In church.  That doesn’t make me a loser.  Just a human.

Have you ever been so tied up in what’s going on in your head that you completely miss out on what is right in front of you?  Ever let your thoughts run away from you and before you know it you’ve put yourself in a bad mood and possibly everyone around you too?

God’s word says this about our wandering thoughts…

 “… we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:5b

When I was in elementary school, my family and I were sitting quietly in our den watching TV together.  Suddenly, my mom started screaming and grabbing at her shirt as if it were on fire!  It turns out that by brother’s hamster had escaped and thought that hiding in my mom’s shirt would be a good idea.  NOT!

We all scrambled to our feet to grab that little rascal as she flung it in the floor.  It scurried in fear but it didn’t stand a chance against all of us.  We knew we had to capture that creature and lock it up in its rightful home or else none of us would get any sleep that night.

Sometimes we may need to jump up and aggressively go after those thoughts which we are contemplating

This idea of taking them captive brings a few ideas to mind:

  1.  We can’t control that which pops into our minds.  Like that hamster, sometimes they just show up.
  2. Our thoughts have the ability to run away from us.
  3. We own those thoughts and therefore, they are ours to take.
  4. Sometimes we have to be aggressive and maybe even a little sneaky to grab them up.

What would this world look like if we let our feelings lead us all the time?

Thoughts of skipping school or work because we just don’t feel like going.  Thoughts of withholding forgiveness because we just don’t feel someone deserves it (even though we want forgiveness when we’ve been out of line).  Thoughts of fear when it comes to trying new things.

We’d all be in some trouble.

And I might end up in jail.

As we grow in wisdom and stature, we should be recognizing when those thoughts pop into our head that aren’t worth pondering.  Those things that need to be taken captive immediately or else they will serve as distractions to what is right in front of us.

If you or I are still reacting to our thoughts and feelings the same way we did in high school, maybe we need to work on this.

It will certainly save us some grief, wasted time and energy.

The result of doing this more quickly each time should also be a pat on the back.  That means that we are learning and growing…and staying out of jail.

Let’s pay attention to our minds.  Don’t beat ourselves up when something irrational pops in our head but instead, speak to it, lasso it and get it out of our head.

What God’s word tells us to do, He will give us strength to accomplish.

Let’s keep the clutter out so there’s more room for the good stuff! It’s something we learn.  Let’s be about the business of putting it in to practice.

 

I’m praying we all do better at this today then we did yesterday.

Blessings,

Kellie

 

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Bumper Cars and Closed Doors

Real Talk About the Beating We Can Take When We’re Trying to Find Direction

 

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We’ve all been there.

Decisions need to be made.  Clarity is elusive.  Discernment is on vacation.

What school should I send my kids too?  Where should I work?  Should I work at all?  Should I start that business?  Should I invest in this relationship anymore?

Sometimes when I’ve got a decision to make and there are  multiple choices in front of me, jumping up and down with hands raised chanting “Pick me!  Pick me!”,  I can feel like I’m in a bumper car.  You know the place where the track is oval shaped and there are people all around driving like crazy.  It’s loud from the antennas screaming across the ceiling.  It’s lonely because I’m in this small car all by myself.  And if I don’t keep moving, I’m a dead man!

THAT’S how I feel sometimes.  Only there’s an exit sign pointing the way out with 2 0r 3 or 4 doors standing there.  I’ve got to figure out which door to push on in order to escape the madness.  I stare down door #1, grab the wheel with both hands, put the pedal to the medal and VROOOOMMMM!  Only to find out that that door was made of hard steel with no give.  I’m thrust back with my shoulder bruised from the seat belt and my head spinning from the impact.

No time to think…there are other cars on the track eying me down.  I grab the wheel, brace myself and head for door #2.  BAMMMMM!  I thrust back AGAIN into the chaos of life.  Feeling discouraged.  Feeling even more bruised and battered.  Feeling a little confused.

Anybody else?

Sometimes it may take ramming into a door or two before remembering that my map is right there in the glove compartment.  Maybe it’s been sitting there since I was a child.  Maybe I just threw it there a few months ago.  Either way, it’s there and the lay of the land has not changed.

THE map.  God’s word.

Before you say “that’s too big of a book, how will that help me make a decision by Friday?”, listen.  That book may not tell us exactly which door to pick, but it does tell us how to make that decision.  It does tell us how to get those other cars that are zooming around us to pull together, using them for leverage as we formulate a plan.  That book tells us who to call on for prayer support and wisdom, how to look over our shoulder and learn from our past and what the peace of God feels like when we’re on the right track with Him.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
John 10:27 

In life, we will get a little beat up from time to time.  We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world surrounded by imperfect friends and family.  We will cycle through times of cruising along, doing the speed limit with the wind blowing through our hair and a smile on our face.  We will also cycle through times where we are white knuckling the steering wheel at a fork in the road, begging God to show us which way we should go.  Sometimes we may knock on a door that won’t open.  Other times, it will open for us before our hand even gets to the handle.

I can’t tell you steps one, two and three to take in order to avoid having a fender bender.  It’s not that simple.

What I can challenge you to do is to stay close to your Heavenly Father.  And trust Him.  The One who designed your road.  The One who drew the map.  The One who holds the keys to all the doors.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6

Surround yourself with people who also look to Him for guidance.  People who recognize who He is and who love Him.  I can challenge you to look for the positives in every situation and to stay in continual conversation with Him.

These are the things that will help us heal from those bruises.  These are the actions we can take that will help us make wise decisions.  These are the real-life VERBS that we can incorporate into our life style.

Life can be hard.  Decision making can be hard.  Let’s stay close to the One who is eager to lead us and has our best interests in mind.  Let’s forgive ourselves as quickly as He is willing to forgive us.

Take a breath and tighten that belt.  I’m sure you’ll be faced with making some decisions before the end of today that will matter.  You’ve got this!!

Reflect & Respond:

**Can you relate?  

**If you’re trying to make a decision right now, get with a trusted friend and ask her to begin helping you to pray for direction.  You’ll be encouraged.

Blessings,

Kellie

 

 

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We Are Built for Friendship

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If you don’t consider yourself a “runner”, have you ever tried it?  Have you ever laced up your tennis shoes, thrown on a hat and taken off down the street for a jog?  You probably figured out real quick that it’s not as easy as it looks, especially when you’re alone.

After just a few minutes the body starts to warm up, the calves start to stiffen, the shins start to burn and the lungs just can’t keep up!  That’s when you slow back to a walk and start asking yourself “what on earth was I thinking?!”

 

On the flip side of that, have you ever gone out as a new runner and taken a friend or two with you?  You meet up at the local track, do some stretches in the parking lot, and start with smiles and a warm up walk.  After a few minutes of that, you’re ready to jog.  You can hear your friends breathing just as loud ( YES Jesus!) as you and you identify with their struggle.  You may be ready to slow down but there’s just something about running with friends that helps keep you going further.  By the end of your time together, you’re high-fiving and proud of your accomplishment, even if it takes a few minutes to catch your breath.

There’s something about doing it together that makes it a little easier.

When I am walking through something hard, my closest friends are a source of encouragement.  They send me texts with just a few words to push me forward and keep a smile on my face.  They let me know when they’ve prayed for me and they make sure I’m not isolating myself and I try to do the same for them.

The flip side is we have fun together!  Human contact is priceless.  We solve a lot of problems when we go antiquing or grab a meal together.  We go back home to our families feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes next.

Friendship.  Camaraderie.  Belonging.  People who “get you”.

This is a gift that is meant for you.  A rich, fluid gift that God uses at times to take care of our needs, to bring us joy and to encourage and lift us up.

God’s word says this…

” And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”

Hebrews 10:24

We were created for relationship.  That whole “hands and feet of Jesus” thing, this is your playground for it.

Jesus himself did life with friends.  He had 12 who walked with him throughout his ministry.  He held 3 of those closer than the rest.  He had one betray him in the end.

Can you relate?

A large circle, a smaller circle within those and one who loses their way.

I relate.  Jesus gets this, He’s been there and I can talk to him about all of it.

I have been reminded this season just how unpredictable our lives can be.  That they can be cut short in an instant.  These relationships, this is where the good stuff is.  This is where our souls can find satisfaction and the thirst we have for deep conversation and authenticity can be quenched.

Can I encourage you to step out?  To send that text or speak to that mom in the carpool line?  Even if with fear and trembling.  We need each other.  We were built to need each other.  But, sometimes, you and I have to take the first step in starting a new friendship.

“By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round-up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12 (The Message)

 

The enemy would have you isolate yourself.  He’ll use your weaknesses and try to convince you that you should keep your distance. The enemy will also keep you too busy with good things to make the time to spend with others.  He has a big bag of tricks and he’s not afraid to use them.

A friendship that reflects Biblical principles is a dangerous thing in the eyes of your enemy.  You may think that he could care less…that’s another lie.

Be on guard.  You may have to fight to keep some people in your life and they may fight for you to be in theirs if you’re putting up walls.

If I could sit down with you over a coffee and implore you to make the effort to engage and seek out these relationships, I would have my purse in hand already.

Put friendship on your priority list.  Ask the Lord to send those that you need  and to push away the ones that are meant for someone else.

You need this.

They need you.

We are better together.

Blessings,

Kellie

 

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Parenting Pre-Schoolers

We Weren’t Meant To Do It Alone

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“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  James 1:5

“What in the world were you thinking?”

This was a staple of my prayer life when my children were young.  Yes, I questioned God many times.  I feel like He probably got tired of hearing it but I had to be real, right?  I mean, what was He thinking putting me in charge of two live humans?

Scripture tells us that we are all sinners so that includes me, duh, and I know that perfectionism is non-existent on the planet.  I get it.  So when we were given the blessing and responsibility of raising two children, how in the world was I, an imperfect person, expected to “train them in the way they should go” and somehow keep them on the straight path and help them be who God created them to be?

At times the task felt impossible.  At times I thought we would all be on Oprah (I know, I’m dating myself) one day airing our dirty laundry for all the world to see.  I mean, surely I was messing them up somehow.

Ever felt this way?

What I learned over time was that my thinking was prideful.  Pride.  Full.  Full.  Of.  Pride!!

Parenting has a way of humbling us, doesn’t it?

Your infant pees on you during a diaper change.  Your toddler comes to wake you in the night with an upset stomach only to vomit in your hair while they’re beckoning for help.  Your preschooler points to someone in the grocery store and asks you why they look like they do.  You begin to lose your temper with your elementary age child and they begin to tell you about the character trait of self-control that they are learning in school.

These are just a few of the physical challenges that come with being a parent.  Just wait until they become young adults!  The physical challenges diminish greatly but the emotional pull that comes with watching your children launch out can be just as great.

Now that I’m on the other side of having small children, here are a few things I learned:

Mothering preschoolers, at times, was lonely.  I was isolated.  I was schedule driven.  Sometimes, I was limited financially aka broke!

*Find a community.  I found mine through my local church.  I deliberately surrounded myself with women who were in my shoes and with those who had already walked out of them and were on to parenting older children.  Both have value.  I attended some play dates, library readings and gym sessions for moms and toddlers but I found that authentic relationships were built in the security of other christian women.

I felt unequipped.  After reading all the books and those wonderful magazine articles found at the pediatrician’s office, every family is unique in its own way and while I found some good tips through those avenues, there was only one solid source for teaching me how to parent MY children.

*This time in my life is when I got more serious about my faith.  I had to ask myself if I really believed in Christ or was I just riding the coat tails of my upbringing.  I had to choose if I was only going to use Him when I needed answers or was I ALL IN on placing my faith in Him.  He created the institution of family, the first mom and dad, the first set of children…He is the designer of it all and He is the deepest, widest and most rock solid source of how to parent.  He proved this to me over and over as I walked through these years.

I am blessed.  I’m acutely aware that there are some out there who long to be a mom and are just not able to be at this time.  Not all get this privilege to parent and we shouldn’t take it lightly that we were chosen to guide these little human beings for 18+ years.  To be the place where they launch off into adulthood and return to when they need to steady their footing again.

*God chose us to do this task.  Being hand picked by God..now that is a blessing!

God chose you!  Rest in that friend.  You are your child’s parent on purpose.

Do what you can to prepare.  Do what you can to just simply do your best.  But know this, this journey of parenting isn’t just about those babies.  It is about you and your relationship with your Creator too. This is a time to lean into Him, trust what He says about finding community.  Trust what He says when He tells you He will never leave nor foresake you.  Trust His instructions in the Bible about parenting.

We can get so wrapped up in our children.  We’ve all been there or been tempted to do so.  But, everything that we experience in this life is about strengthening our relationship with Christ and inviting others to do the same.  All of it.

So keep your focus on Him.  Keep Him at the center.

We are lonely at times because He longs to spend time with us.

We feel unequipped at times because He longs to equip us.

We are blessed always because He is just waiting to give us whatever we need and it’s all for our good, the good of our children and to bring glory to Him.

So, lean in.  Lean hard.  Beware of the trap of thinking you can do it all on your own.  We are designed to need Him and when we give in to that, well that is where we will find freedom.

Blessings,

Kellie