In His time

Our one flower this summer

Our one flower this summer

Just recently, our first potted flower bloomed.

For almost three months, we had been waiting. Every day, we inspected each pot for signs of color and growth.

Blooms take awhile.

This spring we planted four different flower pots. Within a week, little green shoots broke through the dirt to meet the sun, and we cheered! We wanted as many flowers as possible to brighten our walkway.

We waited, and waited and waited.

Growth was painfully slow. The plants in three of the pots had steady progress and leaves began to form. One pot had a few clover-like pokes, but never flourished. The flowers never showed.

My son took ownership of watering the plants and feeding the dog this summer, and one morning he raced into the house yelling for us all to come outside because something amazing had happened. We threw on our flip flops and followed him out to be greeted by one tiny, beautiful purple flower.

Whenever we invest ourselves in a project, or ministry, or person, we almost always have expectations. We want the reward of seeing success, that there was a reason we gave our time and energy. We often serve with strings attached. It’s frustrating when we give, and give, and give, and nothing happens. No change takes place. We don’t see what’s below the surface. We wait. And when the results never turn up or languish in the hot sun, we become disappointed and even disillusioned. We wonder why we even wasted our time.

As we have been waiting on the flowers to show up, God has also been giving me opportunities to wait on Him for growth. He is bringing me through circumstances where I am frustrated and tempted to bail. There are moments when I don’t like to exercise patience and frankly don’t want to learn the greater lesson. Yet, obedience is always more important than results. Because the results aren’t up to me anyway. God always has a purpose. He WILL make a way (even if it’s not my way).

So, I wait. I trust. I must let go of me in order to become more like Christ.

Whatever Jesus plants will always grow. And He has planted His seed of salvation in my heart. I am His. God promised me that He would finish what He started.

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.
– Philippians 1:6 (AMP)

One day, the flowers will bloom, if not in the pots in my yard, in the soil of my heart.

Finding peace in the midst of back-to-school crazy

Backpacks ready for the first day of school

Backpacks ready for the first day of school

In the rush of back-to-school, it’s hard to keep perspective. The last few weeks of summer are spent shopping for clothes and school supplies, squeezing in last-minute fun, attending open houses and gearing up for much earlier mornings. Add to that the emotions of starting a new school year (for both children and parents), and it’s easy to max out your family in a hurry.

This back-to-school season has been especially monumental for me because both of my children will be in school, with my daughter’s entrance into pre-K. As I’ve anticipated this life-change for our family this fall, it’s hard to know how to feel, besides incredibly nostalgic that my babies aren’t babies anymore.

I know I’m not the only parent who will struggle to hold back the tears in the next few days and weeks as school begins, and I would like to share with you some truths God is teaching me.

My mission hasn’t changed. God has blessed me with two amazing children. I am their mother, and my mission to raise them in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” does not change when they go back to school. Our priorities as a family don’t change. My ministry remains to plant God’s Word in their hearts, demonstrate and model what it is to passionately follow after Christ, pray continually for the development of their personal relationship with Jesus, and help guide them to honor God in their decisions.

I must not neglect personal time at the feet of Jesus. Just because life may get crazy and schedules fill does not mean that my one-on-one time with God gets bumped. Back-to-school often brings a buzz of activity. But, my priority of time in God’s Word and in prayer cannot take a backseat. I need Jesus more than ever! My husband and kids need me to spend time with Jesus! Carve out your sacred time with Christ now, and look for ways to include Him in the entire day. Post verses around the house and car. Listen to Christian radio. Start the morning with prayer. Stick with your daily Bible reading plan or begin one on YouVersion’s Bible app, so you can bring your Bible with you on the go. Bottom line: give God the best of your day and the best of yourself.

I need to make the most of my family time. At the end of the day, when kids are picked up and parents arrive home from work, it’s easy to slide into “getting things done” instead of prioritizing relationship building. Dinner needs to be made, dishes need to be cleaned, homework needs to be done, kids need to get to sports and other practices, showers need to be taken and all of a sudden it’s bedtime. In between all of those necessary check-marks can come zoning into phone apps, social media and TV shows. We need to evaluate as the school year gets underway: do we make time to not just chitchat but actually have conversations with our children? How can we spend time as a family, enjoying each other’s company? Are there activities or routines that are getting in the way of our relationships and opportunities to spiritually invest in our children? Family time is worth the work and sacrifice!

I should not be in a rush to fill the time. This word is especially for parents who have stayed home with their children or now have additional time “free” with their children returning to school. With both of my children heading to school tomorrow, I am now looking at an unscheduled three-hour span in the mornings that I’ve never had before. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me in the last several months what in the world I am going to do with myself. To tell you the truth, that question often irritates me, because it makes me feel like my job as the manager of my home and ministry investor isn’t enough. There is an intense pressure, sometimes from ourselves or from well-meaning friends and family, and from society at large, to fill our time according to everyone else’s standard. To all those stay-at-home parents out there, with babies going to school, I want to encourage you to take a pause before rushing back to the workplace or filling those school hours with unfiltered activity. Ask God what He wants, how He wants you to spend your life during that part of your day. And then obey, regardless if it meets other’s expectations. I know I will be right there with you, on my knees seeking God’s wisdom and heart.

I’m praying for you as your children get back on the school bus this fall! Pray for me too!! 🙂