Friday, June 20

What is the Secret to Not Freaking Out?

A couple of years ago I overheard my daughter Hope telling a friend that she was so glad I didn’t get all worked up over grades. Not trying to be nosey but totally wanting to be nosey, I kept listening.

She went on to explain that she and her brothers and sisters were expected to do their best, but in the end, as long as they work hard, Art and I were okay with whatever grade they received.

For the most part, this is right.

This hasn’t always been the case. When Hope started kindergarten, I felt compelled to help her succeed. I felt enormous pressure because I believed success in school meant success in life, and I wanted to set my child up for success.

She was a bright child. She was an articulate child. But try as I might, all through kindergarten she couldn’t read.

Then came first grade. All of the other kids in her class were reading with ease. Some were even reading chapter books! Not my daughter. I panicked. I had her tested. I worried constantly that I must be doing something wrong as her mother.

In the end, it was a readiness issue with her. When she was ready, she starting reading.

Then along came my next child, who was reading at four years old. Finally I’d done something right, I reasoned.

But then child number three came along, and she was my slowest reader yet.

Through all of this, God started to untangle the misperception that success in school determines success in life. And that as a parent, it is up to me to push, plead, demand, and determine my child’s future.

Slowly, I realized God has a plan for each of my kids. As long as I am depending on the Lord to guide me as a parent, nothing I do or don’t do will mess up my kid’s future.

As their parent, it’s my job to guide them, but my guiding shouldn’t have their success in the world’s eyes as the ultimate goal. My guiding should be focused on leading them into a relationship with God, where He’ll make their path straight, no matter what their grades are.

As a parent, this revelation has provided such freedom for me and my kids.

I can celebrate that if one of my kids excels in a subject, that particular success is needed for whatever God intends for them to eventually do in life. If, however, a child struggles and can’t grasp a certain subject—well, that’s also part of God’s direction.

Of course, working hard, doing your best, and being a conscientious student are important. But in the end, for me and my home, grades are not the ultimate determination of success.

This child may never make marks in school that the world highly esteems, but giving her the freedom to excel in the way God has designed her is already paying off. She has an eternal perspective that’s more valuable for her future than any academic accolade.

I’m convinced her struggles in school are actually God’s way to keeping her on the path He’s had for her since she was conceived. Hope was conceived only four months into our very rough start of a marriage. Art and I were two broken sinners thrust into the responsibility of trying to raise a child.

The day Hope was born I saw God like never before. His tender grace was handed to me wrapped in a pink blanket with eyes so wide, so blue, they were a sea of forgiveness forever staring back at me.

I’d never physically touched God, but that day I did. And maybe for the first time in my entire life, His hope rushed inside of me and started rearranging and redeeming my brokenness.

Hope.

We named her Hope.

Now, we won’t talk about the conversations I had with God when His Hope kept me up in the middle of the night for months after that. And we will save the story of how His Hope has always felt it was beneath her to be the child, and she would put her hands on her toddler hips and tell me not to boss her.

We’ll save those stories for another day.

Because I’ll never forget an e-mail I got from His Hope while she was on a mission trip. Hope was walking the broken roads of Ethiopia navigating poverty her mind couldn’t quite process. She bumped into sheep and a woman walking toward her house made of cardboard and ripped bedsheets.

Hope’s steps were steady, though her heart felt shaky as she loved on 30 kids dying of AIDS in a forgotten orphanage on the forgotten outskirts of town.

She wrote to say, “Mom, I’ve fallen in love. The kids rushed at me when I walked in and I tried to hold all 30 of them at one time.”

His Hope.

From a broken mama. Into a broken world. His Hope is still going forth like only His Hope can.

So, all that to say, yeah—I don’t get all worked up over grades. Trusting God’s plan is the only secret I know in the gentle art of not freaking out.

amimessing Join thousands of other moms who are also looking to God for what they need each day with Proverbs 31 Ministries’ online Bible study of my book, Am I Messing Up My Kids? It begins July 13th and you don’t want to miss it. Click here for more information and to sign up today!

To get us started for the study, I’m giving away 5 copies of Am I Messing Up My Kids? to randomly chosen commenters. To enter, leave a comment telling me how you keep your freak-out moments under control.

Tuesday, June 17

When God’s Assignments Feel Almost Impossible

I pulled into my driveway and stared at this gathering place my people call “home.” And my heart whispered …

Lord, am I doing all of this right?

This life You’ve entrusted to me, these people You’ve entrusted to me, this calling You’ve entrusted to me … I desperately want to get it right. To live without painful regret gnawing deep within. To know that I gave it my very best. To please You. Love them. Smile more than I frown. Laugh more than I complain. See the beauty tucked within all these sacred moments of just being together and remember to whisper, Thank You.

Thank You for all of it. The whole package deal of good and bad and highs and lows. For all that mixed together sets about a process of making me. The me that needs the tough stuff to mature me. The sad moments to soften me. The thrilling moments to invigorate me. The poignant moments to endear me. The complicated moments to challenge me. The quiet moments to unrush me.

I need it all.

But sometimes, in the midst of all the moments that are making me into the woman You created me to be, I get awfully tired and discouraged.

And I find myself sitting in my driveway wondering. Staring at the culmination of thousands of decisions I’ve made that have brought me here. To this home. This family. This life. I made my decisions and then my decisions made me.

I’m thankful, yes. So very thankful. But I need You to whisper reassurance into my heart that You’re with me. That You see me. And that You are pleased with me. I just need to know, Lord, am I doing this right?

Have you ever had one of those driveway discussions with God?

Have you ever looked at your life and wondered, like I do, if you’re on the right track?

I think most of us girls think these thoughts. That’s why 20 years ago, I helped start a place where we could gather and learn God’s perspective on how to do life through the pages of His Word. Proverbs 31 Ministries exists because I desperately needed someone to help me connect life with God’s truth. And I still do.

So, every day my team and I gather to think through and pray over every aspect of our ministry – our free daily devotions, online Bible studies, radio shows, social media encouragement, and more. We’re a rag-tag team of passionate, imperfect girls determined to bring God’s Word front and center into your world. My deepest prayer is that as we encourage you, we’re helping equip you to take that encouragement into your family and your sphere of influence.

I think about you every time I put my fingers on the keyboard of my computer and tap, tap, tap tangled thoughts that eventually become words from my soul to yours here on my blog and through Proverbs 31 Ministries. I see you standing in your corner of the world. Mentally I draw a circle around you representing all the people you reach and influence each day.

Then I step back and imagine hundreds of thousands of circles of influence representing more than one million women who engage with us on a daily basis. And I’m amazed how collectively our circles of influence cover almost the whole world.

You, me and all the others who gather here are making a worldwide impact.

Jesus instructed us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation,” (Mark 16:15). That seems an impossible task for someone who sits in her driveway and feels fragile and wonders all the things I sometimes wonder. Can you relate?

But, I can reach my sphere of influence with God’s Word woven in and out of my simple sentences typed into simple devotions and blog posts. And I can pray that somehow God’s Word becomes a filter for your thoughts as you get these pieces of encouragement each day. And then when you pass it along to friends or talk about it in your everyday conversations … it’s multiplied by almost a million.

Together we are going into all the world with the good news! Amazing, what we can do together.

Changing the world is only a click away.

As we head into the summer months, we know donations tend to decrease and yet this is the time of year when our growth initiatives increase. In fact, this month we are on our knees asking God to raise $75,000 to help with the leaner summer months. If you’ve been impacted by Proverbs 31 Ministries or want to support the life-changing work taking place here, I want to invite you to join us. Here are three steps you can take today:

1. Support Proverbs 31 Ministries through your prayers and financial gifts. While our devotions, online Bible studies, and other resources are free to you and me, they aren’t free to the ministry. Every gift we receive today will be celebrated by our staff ringing a “blessing bell” in our office and thanking God for you by name. Click here to make a donation today.

We are praying for 50 new monthly partners to commit to giving $31/month to support new initiatives of expanding the reach of our daily devotions. Click here to become a monthly giving partner.

2. Sign up for the free Proverbs 31 Ministries Encouragement for Today devotions and send this link to a friend so she can sign up too!

3. Give a friend the Proverbs 31 Ministries NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women. All proceeds go back into the ministry, and it’s on sale today for only $24.99! Click here to purchase a Bible.

Thank you! And, if you find yourself wondering about life as you sit in your driveway, let me be a friend who whispers deep into your heart, “Keep going. You’re doing better than you think you are. Now, let’s go change the world together.”

Tuesday, June 10

What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

I felt so fragile sitting in the parking lot of Target, too sad to stop crying. And though my hand held a list of things that really couldn’t be put off another day, I was now entirely too tired to run errands or do much of anything. So there I sat. Alone.

Moments earlier, a friend had called to tell me something she’d seen posted about me online.

I pulled up the social media page my friend alerted me about, and there it was for all the world to see: opinions about me flying through the internet, intent on ripping me apart. Others debated me as if I were a product sitting on a shelf, void of a soul. As soon as I read the unkind words, daggers hit their mark deep inside my heart.

I tried to give myself a little pep talk, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Who on God’s green earth came up with that ridiculous mantra? It’s not true. I cried a little more.

Maybe you’ve sat in a Target parking lot crying too. The circumstances might have been different, but the hurt is the same … that sliced-open feeling of being judged, misunderstood, and wrongly exposed for the purpose of a good debate.

And I’m sure, like me, you instantly wanted it all to stop.

So, what’s a girl to do when she’s feeling desperate to fix something that can’t be immediately fixed?

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

I’m sharing an imperfect solution that will at least get our toes pointed in the right direction over at (in)Courage today. Click here to read the rest of my post and to chat a bit. I’ll be there this morning with coffee in hand and arms wide open.