5.21.2015

Read This Before Making That Decision

Do you need to make a decision about something that seems so exciting, but you can’t seem to shake the hesitation in your heart?

My husband, Art, and I have a friend named Wes who has been fascinated with pilots and planes since he was a little boy. For years he dreamed of the life he’s now living as a flight-school instructor.

It’s thrilling. But recently it’s all become a bit more complicated. The owner of the flight school decided to offer Wes the opportunity to buy him out. It’s an amazing opportunity. But a scary one. One that created a bit of hesitation for Wes.

Art and I both have spent lots of time processing this decision with Wes. I’ve helped him with assessing the costs to this endeavor: the cost to him personally, the cost to his young wife, and the cost of everyday pressures people who own their own businesses feel.

As we were talking one day, I shared with him a picture I keep in my mind when making decisions.

Imagine this opportunity as an amazingly attractive but fast-moving river. There is so much that looks extremely appealing about this river, that you’re going to be tempted to jump right in. But once in the river, you have diminished your ability to make decisions.

That river is moving so fast that it will take you where it is going. And if you haven’t carefully determined in advance whether you want to go all the places where the river flows, you’ll be in trouble.

College students declaring their majors should trace the places that career will take them. If you think you want to major in chemistry but hate working in a lab or hospital, trace that river’s path before jumping in.

Dating couples who are thinking about marriage should trace out what the term “settle down” means to each of them. If one is thinking mission field in a third-world country and the other a townhouse in middle America, trace that river’s path before jumping in.

Moms who are thinking about a new business opportunity should trace out all the expenses of getting started, including upfront costs, childcare and inventory. If a mom’s desire is to stay at home with the kids but this business will require her to be gone every night of the week, trace that river’s path before jumping in.

Before jumping into the river, you have the ability to walk up and down the banks of the river with ease.

You have the ability to stick your toes in and consider what this water will be like.

You can talk to other wise people who know things about this river. And sit quietly listening for God’s voice, reading His Word and looking for confirmation on what to do next.

But once you jump in, the current has a way of demanding your full attention. It’s not that you can’t make adjustments once you’re in the river; it’s just a lot harder to go a different direction once you’re in it.

Several verses describing God’s leading, directing and guiding beside the water have been great comfort to me:

“He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water (Isaiah 49:10b, NIV).

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:1-3, NKJV).

“With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel” (Jeremiah 31:9, ESV).

These are comforting to me because a lot is talked about in the Christian world about stepping out in faith — which I believe in wholeheartedly.

I believe God clearly instructs some to jump right in.

But that doesn’t mean God calls everyone to jump right in. Sometimes the greater act of faith is to let God lead us, talk to us and instruct us beside the water.

riverofopportunity

Dear Lord, I want to really think about this river before jumping in. Reveal anything I might not be seeing right now. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Overcome the agony of hard choices with a wisdom-based decision making process in my book The Best Yes! Get your copy here.

5.8.2015

Make Your First 5 Count

Have you ever felt something stirring in your spirit that wouldn’t go away?

I have one of those things on my heart right now. And it all started with my middle daughter, Ashley.

Ashley is a driven and responsible girl. Last fall, she went off to college and while she’s always excelled academically, the same couldn’t be said for her spiritual life.

As her mom, my heart broke over her struggle in her relationship with the Lord. I just couldn’t understand it — she grew up going to church, learned Bible lessons and saw my husband Art and me read Scripture each day.

But no matter what we did or said, we just couldn’t make it connect for her.

If you’re in that place right now with your child or in your own walk with the Lord, I understand. I think for Ashley, the Bible felt complicated and disconnected from her everyday life issues.

As I cried out to the Lord on behalf of my daughter, the word that kept coming to mind was poverty. Poverty might seem like a strange word for this situation but when I saw the lack of spiritual nourishment in Ashley, the parallels from physical to spiritual lined up.

I chased down this thought a little more — what causes poverty? A lack of access to what you need.

Ashley had “physical” access to the Bible. We have many copies in our home.

But she lacked “personal” access. She wasn’t personally digging into the Bible herself. Therefore it wasn’t nourishing her parched spirit.

So where was the disconnect? As I wrestled with this, God brought me to the book of Proverbs.

“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding — indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:1-5).

There is one word in this passage that’s repeated over and over: understand! Solomon says if we want fear of the Lord and knowledge of God, then we will crave understanding.

That’s what she needed… to crave understanding of the Scriptures!

Meanwhile, at school, Ashley was invited to attend a Bible study. She was challenged by her leaders to spend the first 5 minutes of her day in the Word.

After admitting she hadn’t been reading her Bible and hearing many of her friends talk about the benefits they were getting, she finally gave it a try. Each day, little by little, her interest in the Bible grew. Her life and attitude was being transformed.

I recently visited her at college and could hardly believe my eyes.

She’s a completely different girl.

At one point during our time together, I asked her, “What finally made following Jesus wholeheartedly click for you?” She said, “Mom, I’ve made friends who love Jesus. I saw a joy in them that I wanted. So, I started doing what they do even when I didn’t want to. At first I thought getting up to read the Bible was unrealistic. But as I kept doing it, the Lord started changing my thought patterns. And when I started thinking about life from the standpoint of Truth, I had so much more joy.”

I can hardly type these words without crying.

As Ashley began to share with me what was happening, I also had a light switch go on. Her spiritual poverty was going away the more she personally accessed truth and gained understanding.

In that moment, the burden on my mama heart turned to a vision for a hurting world. What if Proverbs 31 Ministries could help every mom recommend a tool to really facilitate their daughters getting into God’s Word for at least 5 minutes first thing every morning?

What if we could bring the Word of God to college students, moms, daughters, business owners and grandmothers across the globe in a way that made the first minutes of every day life-changing? So, the minute they pick up their phones in the morning, instead of getting distracted by other things, they can get invigorated with Truth.

We must exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world. Instead of immediately checking in with social media with the first moments of our day, we can truly make God first by giving Him our first thoughts.

With God’s vision and your help, Proverbs 31 Ministries is striving to eradicate Biblical poverty. And we want to start by developing a free mobile app called the “First 5″ to:

• Bring life and Truth to the First 5 minutes of every day.
• Provide a healthier alternative to hopping on social media in the first moments of our day.
• Give us the opportunity to share hope with the people in our lives who struggle with putting God’s Word first.

We need people whose hearts are burdened like ours to bring the Word of God to women across the globe.

Together, all hands in, we can change lives with the Word of God! Will you join me? I’m so excited to do this together. Click here for more information.

5.1.2015

I’m Overwhelmed!

I was tired, teary and hungry. That’s such a bad combination when you actually still want to be nice to people, especially those who call you Mommy.

I had such good intentions to stay calm that morning despite getting very little sleep the night before.

I’d been helping with an important school fundraiser project, but at that moment I was wondering why I agreed to do so much. Being in charge of a large part of the event sounded fun when I’d signed up. But the fun quickly turned to stress. I’d underestimated how much time it would realistically take. Plus I’d completely overestimated my capacity to have the necessary energy to carry this to completion.

Then two other volunteers backed out and there I was, once again, frantic and frazzled.

Chaos nipped at the edges of my frayed nerves.

Somewhere between the lost permission slip that had to be signed, the misplaced library book due the week before, and the only bread available for sandwiches having mold on it, calm eluded me.

I pinched off the edges of the bread and toasted it. Surely that would fix it, right?

Then my youngest marched into the kitchen announcing it was chapel day at school and she needed a Bible. I instructed her to go get the pink one Grandma had given her.

“I lost that last month and my teacher keeps telling me to remind you to get me a Bible. I have to bring one today no exceptions or excuses,” she said in a tone I was afraid mimicked the way her teacher said it to her. Clearly, I was greatly impressing this teacher.

And clearly, this was yet another demonstration that I was failing as a mom. Her Bible had been lost for a month and I didn’t have a clue. Awesome.

“Take mine from my nightstand. Just make sure you bring it back home today,” I quipped, thankful to have a solution.

A few minutes later Bible girl came back, “I can’t find yours either. It’s not on your nightstand.”

Quickly my brain darted this way and that way through all the possible reasons why my Bible wouldn’t be on my nightstand. After tracing my steps and thinking through the last place I remembered having it, I realized I must have left it at church … four days earlier.

Awesome. And yet another glaring reminder of my shortcomings.

I wrote a note to the teacher explaining we were apparently having Bible-location issues in our family and that I would absolutely make sure my daughter had a Bible for next week’s chapel. Nothing humbles this Bible teacher quite like having to write a note like that.

Then I loaded up the kids in the van as the clock glared its reminder I would be late getting them to school again.

I imagine you might relate to this scenario even if the details are different.

I’m learning how important it is to be more realistic with assessing both how much time something is going to take and my capacity to fulfill that task. Knowing that I tend to underestimate time and overestimate my capacity, I must build in a buffer.

I’ve decided my time buffer should be 15 minutes. If I think something is going to take me an hour, I schedule one hour and 15 minutes. Anytime I make an exception to this, I regret it. And then if it takes me less time, I’m always grateful for the 15 minutes of breathing room.

Imagine how much more calm we’d all be with little spaces of breathing room tucked throughout our day!

Psalm 39:6-7 reminds us, “We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.” (NLT)

All this rushing will end in nothing. That’s a sobering thought to a girl like me. A girl who is learning to be more honest about her time and her capacity. Why is it that the hardest person to be honest with sometimes is ourselves?

So today, let’s commit to unrush.

To better use the two most powerful words, yes and no.

And to place our hope in the Lord’s hands as we seek the Best Yes answers for our lives.

If you feel like you’ve set your life to the rhythm of rush and wish things could be different, my book The Best Yes can help. Get your copy here.

Today I’m giving away 5 copies of The Best Yes. To be entered to win, comment below with one way you’re going to tuck a little extra breathing room into your life this week.