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.

4.23.2015

Hope When Mother’s Day is Hard

Last year, I received many heartbreaking comments from women who were really struggling with Mother’s Day. Just the mention of the holiday stirred up deep hurt over infertility, adoption, and singleness. That’s why I asked my friend Holley Gerth to guest post today. She understands that deep hurt from her own journey with infertility, and I just love how she can shine a light into what can be a really dark place. Here’s Holley…

The single pink line on the pregnancy test mocked me from the bathroom counter. “You’ll never be a mother,” it seemed to whisper.

I sighed and dropped it into the trash—along with the hope it represented. Then I sat down on the edge of my bed and placed my head in my hands. “God,” I whispered, “Why does this have to be so hard?”

That scenario repeated itself for years in my life.

And then my heart began to slowly, unexpectedly heal as God changed my perspective on motherhood. A turning point came as I read the third chapter of Genesis one morning. In it Eve is called “the mother of all living.” In that moment God seemed to whisper this truth to my heart: All women are mothers. Because all women bring life to the world in some way.

We encourage. We feed bellies and hearts. We nurture dreams. We create beauty. We birth books. And, yes, some of us also have physical children. But that’s not the only way to bring life into this world—it’s one of many.

I am not barren,” I began to tell myself, “I am blessed.

I realized I brought life into the world through my words. I was a mother. Embracing that truth gave me new hope and helped fill the hollow space in my heart.

Years later I sat in my living room watching a documentary on kids who age out of the foster system. The narrator explained when these children turn eighteen they’re often simply told, “You’re on your own.” The story touched me deeply and when people asked if we’d considered adoption I started answering, “If I adopt, I’ll choose a twenty-year old.”

One time when I gave the response above a friend of mine asked, “Have you heard of Saving Grace?” It turned out a transitional living home for foster girls aging out of the system was being started right there in my town. I connected with the founder, Becky Shaffer, and when I told her my dream she didn’t look at me like I was crazy.

Although our lives were busy, Becky and I stayed in touch. The week of my thirty-sixth birthday she invited me to attend a banquet celebrating the accomplishments of the girls living at Saving Grace. God had impressed on my heart that my word for the next year of my life was to be love. And the night of the banquet I met my daughter: Lovelle.

How old was she? Twenty, of course.

Over the last year and a half we’ve become a family. She calls me “Mom” and my husband “Dad.” It turns out she’s a writer, speaker and dreamer too—which neither of us knew when we first connected. Those gifts were buried under years of abuse, surviving and even being homeless. But now they’re blooming like a sunflower. She married a wonderful guy in January so we now have a “son” too.

Do I know why I went through years of infertility or why Lovelle spent so much time without a family? No … and I won’t in this life. But I do know this: God is a relentless Redeemer. He took all the hurt we experienced and transformed it into joy we never expected.

God was not ignoring us. He was not overlooking our hearts. He was not holding out on us while giving everyone else what was good. Instead He was working the entire time to bring us to His very best.

Mother’s Day can be painful. Perhaps like me you’re in the middle of infertility. Or you might be pursuing an adoption that’s more difficult than you foresaw. Maybe you’re single and wondering if having the family you dream of is even possible. Wherever you are today, I want to whisper this to you … God is with you and He is for you. He will not leave the true desires of your heart unfulfilled; the answers just may look different than you planned.

All those single pink lines on pregnancy tests turned out to be lines in a love story. And I wouldn’t alter God’s ending for anything.

Lovelle & Holley

(Holley Gerth is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author, encourager and life coach. She’d love to have coffee with you. Until then, you can find her here or subscribe to her free devotionals. You can read Lovelle’s blog here.)

 

If you can relate to Holley’s post today, you’ll love her books! Today we’re giving away 5 bundles of What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days, and a necklace from the Proverbs 31 Ministries Faith collection.

Read the book for encouragement. Wear the necklace as a reminder that we can trust and believe in our faithful God.

HGbookandnecklace

To be entered to win, leave a comment below with how this post encouraged you.