Saturday, December 26, 2015

Red Ribbon & Blessings

Today, as we put away our Christmas decorations and I began unwinding the red ribbon from around our tree, I was reminded of how far the Lord has brought us in just 2 year's time; how good & faithful the Father has been to us.

Today, as the kids helped take off the ornaments from our tree, breaking a few more balls of our already small collection, I think back to that same year as I had to pass on the post Christmas sales of new glass ornaments.

Just 2 years ago, I remember standing in the aisle of Hobby Lobby with that same ribbon in my hand as we frustratingly made a decision whether a purchase of $13 was too much to add a little beauty to our Christmas tree. This small, simple purchase was causing unnecessary tension. I didn't know the extent of this confrontational purchase until we finished buying Christmas gifts for our kids and family (not big purchases might I add).

That December in 2013, I remember a week I was staying at my parent's house with the kids while my husband was away on a month long work trip and one night crying and frustratingly arguing about taking back gifts over the phone as Kyle informed me we had $500 left in our account after the mortgage hit.

For anyone who knows us, we don't live extravagant lives. We purposefully live a debt free lifestyle (outside our 15 year mortgage & just completed paying off Esther's NICU bills). We live on a pretty tight budget so that I have the privilege of staying home to raise our kids. A decision we both agreed on before the surprise of our Honeymoon twins. I don't even own a smart phone and we always shop at Aldi if that gives you a better idea of our lifestyle.

We aren't ones to live paycheck to paycheck and like to have the appropriate Dave Ramsey suggested amount of emergency fund set aside into savings, so I knew this was bad....

About a month before the twins were born, we went to a birthday party of one of our friends. We were more blessed than the birthday boy himself as everyone asked if they could gather around us to pray as we were about to start our new journey of little ones. The Lord gave a word (among others) that 'we would never go without.'

Today, I think back on that promise and how we indeed have never gone without. We never went without when my husband lost his job shortly after the twins were born. So much that the very first day of my husband's current job, was the same day his severance pay ran out from his previous employer. What a praise of the Lord intertwining everything together for us. We never missed a beat.

Today, I think how this year He has blessed us immensely. He has not only provided for every one of our needs, but He has put into our hands so many of our wants...so much blessing to include the extra budget to finally remodel our home. Woot!

This year, we stepped out in faith to register our twins for preschool two days a week to begin preparing for Kindergarten. The Lord provided the exact extra amount we needed each month in our budget for their schooling with my husband's merit increase this year.

My husband also received a job promotion this year, which included a company car. We sold my 2009 Honda which is helping fund our remodel. :) And saving us a good chuck on car insurance, maintenance, and gas expenses.

Today, I don't have to think twice about running out to get those ornaments on sale to replace our not so kid proofed decor or also adding some new storage containers for the holiday toy-nado that invaded our home.

Today, we have been sooooooo blessed!
We have such a good, good Father.
He holds our needs in His hands.


Friday, December 18, 2015

We Do Jesus

Christmas always carries fond memories of childhood. Christmas was made sentimental with tree decorating with Mom, crafts, anticipation, gatherings at my Mamaw's house, cookie baking traditions, that I now carry on with my husband on Christmas Eve while we watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and wrap presents...the smell of Christmas

And, of course, Santa was coming! My favorite year being the year I wanted a Starbrite Sparkles doll, for any of you 90's kids out there. I don't remember wanting anything so much in my life!!

After setting out my best decorated cookies with a cup of milk for the big guy, my parents agreed that I could sleep out on the couch next to the Christmas Tree so I could try to catch Santa in the act of delivering our presents (and to make absolute sure he was leaving me Starbrite). I fell asleep thinking every noise was reindeer on my roof.
I never did catch him.

I loved the tradition of Santa, so much that, I believed in Santa to almost the age of 10 when a kid on the school bus thought it was ridiculous I still believed. While turning to my younger sister for defense, she basically told me I was too old for such shenanigans and she had been advised by my parents to go along with the covert until I figured it out on my own. I was crushed...

The Easter Bunny...
The Tooth Fairy...
Mourning it all at once.

As the kids are getting older, especially this year, the Christmas fun is truly beginning in our house. It's filling me with childhood anticipation all over again as I have been waiting for the childhood magic come to life....

Last year, we took the kids to visit Santa for the very first time. Of course, I had been awaiting this moment, but something just didn't feel right about this introduction into our children's lives.
I had a check in my Spirit.
And it wasn't the fact that my kids were crying as they sat on Santa's lap.
I walked away feeling unsettled, wondering....
How can you do Christmas any other way?


Truth in the Tinsel fun.









Soon after, a twin Mom friend shared a book called,"Truth in the Tinsel" that she was doing with her
girls. It's daily children's Advent stories with a craft for each day in December to keep the meaning of Christ shining through the Christmas season. The author of the book, Amanda, has a blog and she shared how she didn't want Santa to be the center of their Christmas. And there it was....an answer to the stirring in my heart.

Jesus was going to be the center of our Christmas tradition.


The No Santa idea came easily last year since the kids were so young. They couldn't remember sitting on Santa's lap even a week after it happened or the significance of that moment in time. Unwrapping gifts Christmas morning didn't seem like any kind of mystery. Presents were there for the opening, of course! Ha!

This year is a whole new ball game. The girls are in preschool and in other environments where Santa talk seems to be everywhere. Songs, kid's shows, and even strangers we meet in the grocery store ask our kids, "What's Santa bringing you for Christmas?" At first, my kids didn't know how to respond, but it didn't take long for them to catch on.

We thought we would wait until the Santa questions came, but instead of questions, we got...
'Santa's coming to my house and he bring me presents.'
'If you don't get the Sophia castle for me, Santa gonna bring me it.'

I really didn't know how to respond to the Santa comments. We don't want to tell our kids the truth this early with the chance of them ruining another child's experience. We want to be respectful of everyone's traditions. 

As I started to feel defeated by Santa this week, even down to finding cute wrapping paper without the Red Suit decorated on it, a lady in our small group shared that they didn't do Santa with their kids either. It was such affirmation and peace to our decision. I gathered wisdom from her experience on how to respond to my preschoolers on their acquisitions of Santa.

"Some people do Santa, some people do Hanukkah, but in our home, "We do Jesus."

An answer my kids can relate and take hold of.

Santa is not right or wrong; He's not a Salvation issue, but it's what has been laid on our hearts in our family traditions and we want to be intentional with our holiday worship and honor the Lord.

We are exploring our new family traditions. It's the start of something new. It's a week before Christmas and I just ordered Ann Voskamp's, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, also at Helen's suggestion. It has a daily devotion and activities centered on the Jesse Tree (lineage of David). I'm a little late starting it, but I'm excited to see where this book takes us in this new terrain.




We want Christmas to be something that overflows from our hearts and not just a religious celebration, as well as, sweet family memories to carry in their hearts as they grow older.

Last year, my husband made a wooden manger to place next to our tree. Christmas Eve, the kids fill the empty manger with hay, swaddle, and place the baby Jesus in the manger.

Our kids get most excited about it being anyone's birthday. E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E is required to have a party. Complete with singing, cake, candles, balloons, and presents.
Jesus isn't excluded. He gets His own party too.
There will be CAKE! 
And there will be presents!
And they will know our presents come because The Lord has been ever so good to us and loves us lavishly.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Never Chasing Now

Almost 5 years into marriage and from moving into our home and you will find our house has yet to be decorated. I'm an aspiring photographer with a hard drive full of the cutest photos of our kids, but yet not one to grace our walls. I keep putting off my nesting instincts as we plan to remodel the e.n.t.i.r.e. house within the next year ::fingers crossed:: and I'm sure to change everything, but I'm dying to make this nest cozy, remodeled or not! So last Saturday, I decided we needed to hit up some neighborhood sales in our area for all kinds of wall goodies on a dime, which then turned into Hobby Lobby spending to accent the items I bought. Ha!

I had a plan. A plan to fit in as many sales in these 2 neighborhoods in the most skillful of time. I wanted to get and go home to enjoy the rest of our Saturday activities. One of these neighborhood sales happened to be in my in-laws neighborhood. The hubs wanted to visit their house first for coffee. After arriving, the kids could not be parted from Mimi & Papa's so the two of us ended up walking to each sale together. 5 minutes in and I was already discontent. Of course, that's when my hubs likes to chime in with his brilliant, loving wisdom:
 'Stop trying to chase the next thing. Enjoy this time we have alone together right now without the kids. It's not often we get these moments.'

After a few minutes of soaking in the fact he was right, I laid my expectations down and we had a great walk. It ended up being my favorite part of the day.

Had he not shared his perspective, would I have been able to see through the morning just as clearly?

So many times, that's all I (hemmm, hemmm, we) do. I'm always trying to chase the next thing. It can be in big or small ways. It can be waiting to make it to the weekend or that fabulous beach trip next month. Or I'll finally enjoy my house and making it home-y when it's all remodeled and pretty. Or I will only be happy when I can lose the rest of my goal weight and look fabulous again pre-baby era (but with the added curves).

As a SAHM, I often notice the enemy thwarting my ministry as a Mom. He messes with my contentment and tells me 'I'm not significant' and that 'I'm not doing anything of worth.' 'Look at that Mom who can go to work and come home, she's more fulfilled, rounded, and accomplished.' 'One day you can do something valuable too.' These lies cloud my vision. It deflects the most important accomplishments I have in front of me.

On those long, tiring days, where I'm just frustrated and spent, the enemy notoriously, like clockwork, comes along and tells me once again, 'I'm not significant,' 'Way to go on losing your patience with the kids, you need to learn to be a better Mom,' and with that I drop the ball on my Mom joy adventures. I find myself beginning to chase the next thing.
When the kids get bigger, I can do this...
                                             I'll be good at...
                                                 and accomplish this...
                                                            I can finally serve in my church & community...
                                                                          I'll start this ministry....
                                                                                    I'll be able to make a difference doing....

Sure, those thoughts are great aspirations and shouldn't be discounted. I'm a dreamer at heart and know they are God given, but I can't let them wish away the precious time I am currently living out.

I think Jen Hatmaker said it best in her new book, "For the Love:"

"To the Mama at home with a bunch of littles, you can live a life worthy right now. Your calling is today. God makes you worthy as you desire goodness for your children, meeting needs and nurturing little souls. No future calling is any more important than your current station. Every good, meaningful possibility is yours today."

I have to be able to chase today. I need to be aware of what the Lord is doing and has for me now in the present. This stage is as important as the next season.

A couple weeks ago, I received a note from a lady in our small group. It absolutely filled me to the brim. I want to share her words because they are just too good and puts everything into perspective:

"Dear Ashley,
        I wanted to write to simply encourage you! It seems not that long ago that I was in your stage of life, a tiring stage. In that place, it is hard to see beyond the day. Let me promise you the time and love you are sowing into your children...a harvest will be reaped! They will reap such confidence and a sure foundation. As you love them and teach them of Jesus as you walk with them daily you are imparting far more than you can realize from where you sit today. I will never regret one moment that I stayed home with my kids. We had less stuff and did without things others had. But now I am overwhelmed by the people my children have become. God has done a work in each of their hearts. The work is His alone but He granted that our home be a place of futile soil for the gospel to take root and grow. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and love those babies well! Before long your time will be more your own... I promise." 

Did her loving words wash over you the same as they did me? 

Gosh, how many times am I already ahead of the crop trying to reap the harvest. I'm not stopping to invest in the worthwhile moments. This also goes the same for how we invest our time, the choices we are make, or steward the things God has already given us. I've been so convicted on every one of these levels lately, not just with being a Mom.

(Or how we don't have the prettiest house on the block because we do choose to make sacrifices for me to be able to stay home with the kids and to pour into their souls. It puts contentment in it's place.) 

Some days may not seem significant when I am living the SAHM dream day after day, but I am imparting much to my kids. It is in those small seemingly insignificant moments or small acts of just talking with our kids or reading them a Bible story over lunch and asking questions. 

All of our small moments add up to a lifetime.

This time, whether with my kids, the food I eat, the words I speak, the relationships I make, the Facebook time I take, or the money I spend, these are all things that God has entrusted to each and every one of us. He is trusting us with our now moments to enjoy with Him, to reap, and to harvest. We just need to soak up our day and see what the Lord has in it. It is not to be wished away to chase tomorrow.



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

1st Day of Preschool

This week I was promoted to a Mom of Preschoolers with one toddler left in my nest. As this day approached, the more it pulled at my heartstrings. These milestones make me realize just how much this time is so fleeting and will be gone all too soon. Some days can feel never ending, but Preschool marks my numbered days with them. Realizing this, my ordinary days have just become my most treasured of time.

As much as I fight to overcome the tug in my heart, I'm also excited about this new adventure. It means 2 days a week, I get some Ty time. He being my youngest, we have never had that special one on one time. I can tell you he's all too happy to have all the toys & Mommy to himself.

I also get a taste of what it feels to have a Singleton on my hands. (This is going to be easy!) I'm looking forward to the chance of being refreshed. I feel I will be able to value and monopolize my time better when the twins are home with me, giving me better focus and quality time with them.

The first day went better than I expected. Although, not without tears. Anna cried and grabbed hold of me to stay. She was fine as soon as I made it out the door.

Usually, when one twin starts crying the other joins in too. They sense this in each other, but not today. Esther was cheerfully waiting to give me hugs bye as Anna's tears started flooding. Es has been excitedly counting down to this very moment. She was giving Anna a look as if to say, 'Don't ruin this for me! [I'm not crying with you this time.]'


1st Day of Preschool!!

The girls are in the same class together this year. We thought it would be best for them to have the security of each other in this transition time and split them up into different classes next year.

After orientation, I walked by to take a peek in their room before leaving home. The girls were happy sitting in Circle Time with all the other kids.

Since it was orientation day, Tyler went to stay with his Mimi, so I got to have a lunch date with my Hubs. I can't remember the last time we had one of those, so it made for a sweet morning.

At pick up, the girls were so excited to show me their papers from their day, but Anna hurriedly came over to tell me, "You took a LONG time." We're not used to being away from each other this long.

The school day included a story of the Gingerbread Man, a Gingerbread Man hunt, Gingerbread cookies for snack, and Gingerbread Man craft.
I was impressed with how well their craft turned out for the 1st day. There must be something to this Preschool thing. Esther told me her Gingerbread cookies ran away. Smiling, she continued to repeat, 'You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!'
I don't know about you, but Gingerbread makes me think of Christmas, not a 1st day of school theme.

Although, they were exhilarated the rest of the afternoon about their right of passage. The true sign came when we got in the car to run errands, they would ask if we were going to school
'No, not today.'
"Whyyy? I want to go to school."

This is all going to be okay. I have big girls now, little Preschoolers that is! ::sniffles::


Esther's Back to School Photo



Our Post 1st Day of School Photo


Anna's Back to School Photo

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Summer Reading

Okay, who am I to be endorsing some good reads?
I am one of the worst readers out there. It's just never been my thing. I'm even more shocked it's making it into my blog archives. Reading has always been hard for me. I can't stay focused and my mind starts wandering. Often times, I will start a book, get halfway through, and just never finish.

However, I'm finding it's place in this Mom season. My Littles are growing and learning to do and play more on their own. There are parts of my day where they are busy in play and I don't know what to do with myself in these small increments of time, I mean, when I'm not picking up, doing laundry, dishes, or being some kind for zombie robot.
I'm mentally bored, but still not in a stage where I can throw myself into something because I still get interrupted every few minutes to referee, fix something, help put on Cinderella's dress, find her other glass slipper, 'read book,' or 'I show you somp-ting.'

So, I'm in the middle of reading several books all at once. My attention span and dedication to each one is short in this life stage, so throughout the day, I have been picking up and reading one chapter at a time in each book. It's been keeping me focused and growing me deeper.

These books have all been too good to keep to myself. Plus, who doesn't need a good beach or poolside read this summer. :)

#1.

The Author is right here in Memphis. "Wife School" is by far, hands down, the best marriage book I have ever read!! It's so easy and fun to read, but sharing insights and wisdom into marriage I have never heard from anyone, anywhere.

This lady is in the mind of every woman and gave me a guidebook to learning my husband and how to really communicate and treat him respectfully. It is now on my gift list to any of my friends who are about to be married. If you're married, you need this book


#2. 

I finished this book in a women's study this Spring with some ladies at church. It has dissected me down to the roots and spiritual core, for sure!

I opened the pages and couldn't stop reading. I thought I looked to God in every aspect of my life, but quickly realized I am an idolater. I rely on idols of control, security, comfort, and the perfect family more than I do my God. Yikes! Really, I discovered I worship myself.

As I identified this repulsive nature in me, I also found how much the Lord is still calling me to Him. His loving, forgiving nature draws me in and brings me in pursuit of Him.

"Arise my love, my beautiful one, and come away." -Song of Solomon 2:13


P.S. The more you put into this book, the more you will get out of it. I  recommend doing the study guide and discussion in the back of the book even if you aren't in a small group setting.


#3.

This has been a great follow up to "Idol Lies." I discovered one of my idols was comfort. Comfort comes in so many forms, but also includes my love for food. I wanted this book to be an extension of my "Idol Lies" journey to fully seek the Lord. I want to crave Him more than I do any of these other things I have built around myself.

Already starting out strong in Chapter 1, Lysa compared our want for food (or insert any idol struggle here) to the rich man in Matthew 19:

"Jesus responds, "If you want to be perfect [whole], go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
The rich, young man then goes away sad because he won't give up the one thing that consumes him. He is full with his riches he can't see how undernourished his soul is.

Jesus meant this for any of us who wallow in whatever abundance we have. I imagine Jesus looked straight into this young man's soul and said, "I want you to give up the one thing you crave more than me. Then come, follow me."

It's not about the riches or the food. It's a heart issue. Is He the one, true thing that satisfies us to the deepest places of our soul? Is He alone enough?


#4.

I'm only in the 2nd chapter of this book, but it is already making it to my list. I can't tell you how skeptical I was opening this book, or how corny and somewhat intimidating this idea sounded, the practice of family worship in the home. I always cringed, I mean, seriously cringed when the pastor of the church I grew up in repeatedly said this was a must in every Christian home. I died at the very thought of my parents starting it in ours. Well, guess whose family will be starting it..... 
(I guess, you run from the things you are most called to.)

I have been rolling around an example in my mind to sum up what I have read so far: you don't send your kids to school to learn discipline, respect, and how to act, it starts in the home, just as it's not the church's sole responsibility to be our child's only source and teaching of worship in their life, 
it starts in the home. 

I'm not sure yet what this will look like. It seems so awkward to think about at first. I don't want it to be something we just do. I want it to be a heart act, not a religious one. I want our family to commune with the Lord together.... 
                                         Maybe it's laying on the floor in the middle of our living room with our eyes closed while we listen to worship music together, aligning our hearts to His. Maybe it's sharing our daily life and the Word together at the dinner table and praying for each other at the end of the meal after everyone shares their heart... 

Worship should be a lifestyle. It should be flowing out of our hearts, filling our homes, and pouring into our corporate worship in the church. If our children see us living in a constant state of worship, it's not such a forced and stiff family tradition. It should be what our children seek to experience.

#5. 

We are currently reading this book with our small group. I feel so inadequate to describe this book. Most of what you will read in this book has not been taught from the pulpit or has sadly been misunderstood. It has reminded me who The Holy Spirit is all over again (as a person) and to welcome Him into my everyday. I want to be in constant relationship with Him and not an aspect of the Godhead I am missing out on. Jesus said, 'it is better that I leave you so that I can send the Helper to you.' (John 16:7). 

"As a Church, we've chosen to view Him as a 'holy entity' rather than as One who is most holy. His desire is to be our closest friend, yet we have limited His involvement in our lives. The sad truth is we have inadvertently rejected the most fulfilling relationship available to us." -John Bevere.


My NEXT reads




Find yourself reading any of the books on my list? I would love to know your thoughts and experience with the book!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Struggle

We are just starting to find a true normal in our household. We are starting to get out and do things again. Live life. Feel the breeze.

After Tyler was born, I dealt heavily with postpartum depression, and then found after getting through it, I still wasn't myself, but kept going, thinking everything was normal. I mean, what is normal after having kids, right?

Test results found that I had Hashimoto's, a form of hypothyroidism. It explained my constant energy deficit, depression, weight, and other symptoms. Parenting, or disciplining, during all of these times was whatever wasn't going to cause a fight. I was too exhausted to fight or push forward most days.

Fast forward now to the other side and there has been quite the power struggle in our house lately.
(Mmmph....I hate admitting, talking, discussing the dropped ball here because we are still picking it back up....)

We have such good kids. The best. I love them so, but there are certain discipline issues that have got out of hand. I have to repeat myself 10x to get anyone to listen. If I discipline for not abiding or bad behavior, it becomes the biggest meltdown, no one who has ever met our girls would believe, so it's easier to give in and negotiate. And then there is Tyler, who now has full blown, on the floor, tantrums almost every time we visit the grocery store.

I said, ' I will never be that Mom! '
But that's me. Yep.

Disciplining our kids or acquiring their respect has become my biggest challenge. The one I thought would come easiest to me.

We took our dilemma for prayer in our small group and they shared their wisdom and prayers. Someone hit the mark about disciplining them from a place of love. And there it was. I had listened to other's advice, but with no real basis from which I could start because picking a tactic was not supposed to be my starting point


I first had to realize I forgot my purpose. I lost myself in the every day. I forgot what I was doing. I forgot it's not about surviving through each day, or having my kids listen to me, or get through a store run without public stares. It's about loving them and honoring the Lord. 

And then, of course, comes the disciplining out of that.

Gary Thomas, in his book "Sacred Parenting," said it well, "When God does not supply our motivation. We may raise a more courteous and obedient child, but we won't pass on what is of ultimate importance. If parenting were only about behavior modification, Jesus would have praised the Pharisees and kicked dirt on the adulterous woman. In other words, I'm saying that our own spiritual quest must drive our parenting. Unfinished or neglected spiritual business inevitably works its way out through our relationships in a negative fashion: we become more demanding, more controlling, more intolerant, more resentful."

Those words have been a huge heart sinker.

This week, I'm starting at the bottom up, putting my hands back on the ball. I have been aligning myself to the Lord, asking Him for my purpose each morning and asking for Him to impart more of His love to me and for me to give, playing more, instructing less (Thanks, Dad).

These past few days already feel fuller (in the joyful, purposeful way). I'm noticing a little more listening and already a lot more love. I'm building new connections and communication with my kids that is hope to last. ::crossing fingers::


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jonah

My parents made a visit this past weekend and bringing with them spoils for the kids. Tyler was the most proud receiving a tricycle with his name in vinyl lettering on the back. Finally, a bike all his own as he has been coveting for like his big sissys.

Entitlement is a big deal in our house. When you have twins that have to share everything down to the same clothes and shoes, it is a no sharing zone if their name or initials is written on any one thing. Tyler learned the rules fast and knew immediately the importance of his bike.




The next morning as everyone was waking, Esther came into our room to inform us: 
"Anna's widing Tywer's bike."
Me: "It's okay. Tyler isn't up yet." 
Esther: (With her arms flailing, jumping up and down, spouting off in a cracked voice) 
"Noooo! Noooo! Mommy!"  
Me: "Esther, I said it was fine. I will take care of it. Tyler isn't up yet to ride his bike, so it's okay. He's not riding it." ::Protesting cries in between:: "Go sit down and eat your breakfast and I will be there in a minute." 
Another "Nooo!" insued with fussing, protesting, and stomping as she walked out of the room.
As soon as she left, my husband piped up, 
"She's Jonah. 'No, God! Justice! Justice!" 

Being that I had just recently finished reading the book of "Jonah" in my Chronological Study, I found the analogy a bit humorous. Reading it, like some of the other books in the old testament, especially those that include the Israelites, I think to myself (with pride and self righteousness, might I add) how hard is it to follow the Lord after He has done A, B, and C, but yet you forsake him, follow other false gods and practices, or when you're a follower like Jonah and God audibly tells you to "Go" to Nineveh, you go, right?!

...so about that pride and self righteousness, I was talking about....

I'm finding in my own life I am much like Jonah and my Esther. Many times my protests for control, justice, selfish pride and righteousness stand in the way of loving others, exemplifying true forgiveness toward others and myself, and keep me from the Lord's promptings.

It's the things that God calls us to everyday that I find myself resisting with my own selfish agenda. I don't allow the Lord's full will to take over my life in trusting surrender.

'Lord, it's not fair for her to keep treating me like this. I deserve to hold on to this and not let it go.'
'Why should I always have to be the bigger person? I get burned every time!'
'I'm justified in feeling this way. I know I'm right.'

Sure, I don't get swallowed by a giant fish in my objections, but I miss out on full intimacy with the Father. I eliminate the full fruits, joy, and freedom in relationships that God would love for me to enjoy or use for His own glory. Often, I would rather cling to bitterness, resentment, control, and comfort, making them into little idols to build around myself, just like the Israelites did even after God parted the Red Sea and all his other marvelous wonders. Ouch! Indeed!

Not only am I hurting myself and causing separation from the Father, but I'm putting God in a box. I'm forgetting His true nature to be faithful and just and ultimately working together for the good of His people who love Him and are called according to his purpose.


I am Jonah. I am an Israelite. I am a 3 year old with a tantrum on the inside.


The ones I think about so harshly while reading the Word, I am now looking at harshly in myself. The Lord is opening me up. He's doing surgery on my heart, cleaning out all the ick. As much as it's scary to let go of the deep, secret things in my heart, it's going to be a refreshing journey of joy and freedom I have yet to experience and instead of clothing myself with bitterness and resentments, I will be blessing others with abundant mercy and grace by the one who abundantly wrapped me in His. I don't want to wither away under God's great goodness (see Jonah 4).


Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
-Psalm 51: 7-12