When Sticking Together Makes All The Difference

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We’re on a journey. A passage from one corner of life to another. Leaving behind the mindset of defeat in search of something better.

For me, this journey points to better health. To victory over that which has held me captive far too long. It’s also a journey to obedience. To following the call God placed on my heart so long ago  – the call to write.

Yes, this is my journey. But it’s also yours. This is our journey. The one transforming us into the women God called us to be; into living the life God set out for us to live.

Friend, I envision the two of us walking shoulder to shoulder down a well-worn path. Sometimes the ground beneath our feet is smooth and clear; other times it’s rocky and covered in debris.

Some days elegant rays of light dance through the treetops, lighting the trail in extraordinary ways. Other days the walkway is dark and dreary. Imposing shadows bend low, intent on steering us any way but the right way.

Though this trek is difficult at times, it’s okay – because we’re together. And together makes us brave. It boosts our confidence. It helps us find the will to stay.

Are we willing to join forces, completing that which we’ve been unable to do on our own? Are we willing to try again? No matter how difficult the journey. No matter how many the losses. No matter how great the failures.

Are we willing to pick one another up and set out again?

I hope so. You and me, along with this friend and that friend. A community of women walking side by side toward victory. One small win at a time.

Friend, will you join me on my journey? Will you invite others to join yours?

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Challenge: Name one or two areas of your life that need improving. (I shared two of mine with you in a previous post. Remember, yours may look completely different than mine, and that’s perfectly alright.)

Questions to consider: What bad habits have taken root in your life? What good habits can be implemented to spur you and others on to victory?

Scripture to ponder:  “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8 NIV

Lord, we know we are loved by You just as we are. Yet, this life we’re living isn’t Your best for us. Somewhere along the way, we’ve settled for lesser things. We’ve chosen ways contrary to the life You had in mind for us. So many issues keep tripping us up, Lord. Help us to look to You. Show us and teach us the way we should go – and send us others willing to go with us. 

How Do You Compare?

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The word failure dangles within my sight. I reach out and take hold of it, knowing it belongs to me. Its presence so strong, my eyes refuse to focus on anything else. I don’t see progress. Or second chances. And certainly not grace.  I only see failure.

It follows me around throughout my day, clinging tight to my every move. It shouts at me when I encounter other women who seem to have it all together – women who emulate who I so desperately want to be. I discreetly study these women, observing them as they interact with their husbands and children. I notice how they connect with their friends. I watch them as they work. They are helpful and kind. They are invested in the lives around them. They are brave, intelligent, confident.

Unnoticed, I lift my heavy measuring stick. I hold it upright, positioning it near each unsuspecting woman. I assess all the good I see in her. Taking a mental note of her strengths, I vow to do better. I’ll become a more helpful wife. I’ll engage more with my children. I’ll be that friend everyone needs. I’ll work harder to keep my house clean, my laundry done, and my refrigerator stocked.

I forge ahead; I try so hard. But with each tiny success, all I heed are the areas not yet conquered. Once again, I only see failure.

And Failure – he is so happy to be seen! He stands tall and displays his most mischievous grin. He lays claim to victory. He declares, “The battle is won!” He’s tricked me into comparing the worst of my attributes to the best of others.

This trap is better known as the comparison game: a game none of us ever wins.

It’s a game that makes it easy to see where we don’t measure up. Where our roles as wife, mother, and friend fall short. Where our mistakes are magnified. It is indeed a trap designed to open the doors to  frustration, defeat, and hopelessness, inviting them to make a home in our hearts.

It’s a ruthless tactic. We’ve entertained it far too long and far too well. It’s time to break free.

So, we run to our Father. We humbly set our concerns at His feet. We pour our hearts out to Him. We admit our mess-ups, our feelings of inadequacy, our desire to be like others, our fear of never being enough. We talk it out with Him, sitting quietly in His presence. We exchange our weighted, unreliable measuring sticks for His sweet grace. In doing so, we find His peace.

Peace to release all our aimless efforts. Peace to instead lean on Him. To follow His lead. To become more attentive to His unique plans for us and our families. Peace to shake off our failures. To keep growing closer to God and stronger in faith. Free, at last, to pursue the assignments God has given us.

Free to become the women God called us to be. 

Handling the Hard Times

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I’ve been mostly silent these past few months. Pulling back, withdrawing, keeping to myself more than usual. That’s what I do when life gets hard, and right now, life is hard.

My grandson, Elijah, has been in the hospital nearly three months. This precious blonde headed, blue-eyed, energetic two year old boy needs a new heart, and he can’t come home until he gets one.  The wait is hard – not just because waiting in general is hard, but because each new day brings with it the risk of something going wrong.  It has been a roller coaster of a ride, to say the least.

Though my faith is strong, my words have been few. I’ve struggled with processing my thoughts, my emotions, my pain. I’ve done what so many of us do in seasons such as this …  I’ve lunged into each new day, doing what must be done, carrying on as best I can, keeping my body busy, my mind occupied.

Survival mode.

A quick glance at my facebook newsfeed, church prayer list, or local news app confirms I am not alone. Many others are living with adversity, brokenness, and heartache. Everyone facing their own tough battles. None of us exempt.

Wounded, hurting people trying desperately to navigate the difficult paths of this life. Earnestly attempting to meet the needs of our families. Loving them deeply, serving them well, supporting them daily. Appearing strong, all the while trying not to come undone.

One foot in front of the other.

Holding down fear, shaking off its grip. Stepping into the unknown. Praying for strength to endure. Hoping what lies ahead brings joy rather than sorrow.

How do we make it through?

I’ve learned the best way to handle hardship is to cling tightly to the words of scripture. Searching verse after verse, seeking guidance, comfort, and peace. Yet sometimes in my discouragement, I struggle. I find myself sitting blankly, open bible in hand, unable to read, unable to pray, unable to reach out.

Helpless.

But praise God, even when I feel helpless, I am not without hope.

It is there in that state of helplessness, I realize my greatest need for God. It is also there that I begin to understand the importance of community … others walking with me on this journey.

Those dear friends who patiently remind me God is always with me, loving me through every single tear I cry. Those who encourage me with scripture at just the right time. Those who pray for me when I have no words of  my own.  Those who faithfully lift up my family, carrying our hurting hearts to Jesus, petitioning God for Elijah’s miracle.

I’m so thankful God placed these prayer warriors in my life. Their presence reminds me of His presence, and His presence reminds me of His great love for us all.

Because of this truth, I am able to once again dive into His Word, searching out scripture for myself. I am able to sit at His feet, casting all my cares upon Him, knowing without a doubt —

He cares for me. Just as He cares for you.

Even when life is hard.