Into the Unknown……

Being the planner I am I decided to map out a route for a family hike, so I started down the road. As I was jogging along the road, I came to a fork in the road with 3 paths. I could chose Path #1 which looked fairly familiar at first glance, but further down the path you could see more rules and regulations, and if you weren’t cautious enough it led into Path #2. If I chose path #2 my world would become a virtual reality and I didn’t have control over what the outcome may be. It had a lot of questions about what the path even looked like. There were so many potential hazards along the way, not to mention the frustrations. If I chose path #3 there was a small chance of insanity at the end because peace and quiet may be no more. It would totally change the hike and we would have to rely on each other more than ever on Path #3. No matter what path I chose, there were risks involved and none of them were the easy, straight, and comfortable path I had expected when I set out on this journey. The once familiar road map had changed and now it was my job to navigate it for our family.

Now this may seem like a real scenario, but obviously if you know me at all, it was a dream. Because let’s be honest…. I don’t jog or hike! But it was a very real dream to me. This dream occurred night after night for over a month. This dream was a manifestation of my anxieties about making the right choice for our family in regards to schooling for the 2020-2021 year.

Path #1 was to opt for in-person learning which seemed to be the most normal, until you knew all of the guidelines that would be put in place for safety precautions. Once you knew all of the rules of hiking down that path it began to seem less normal. Plus there was a high chance (almost inevitable) that Path #1 would someday merge into Path #2.

Path #2 was to opt for remote learning. I wasn’t sure I wanted to relive even a portion of the remote learning we endured in the Spring. I knew it would look different, but I still didn’t have a clear picture of what it would look like. I didn’t want to get stuck with something that was frustrating to my kids or to me. It also gave me less control of the curriculum they would have to work on while at home.

Path #3 was a path I never thought I would be considering….. this path was homeschooling. As a former teacher I knew this path would be the most practical for our family because I had a stockroom of curriculum, resources, and supplies ready to go from my teaching days. I loved teaching! But to be responsible for my own kids educational year was a little scary — well actually — a lot scary! I didn’t want to lead them down this path only to fail in leading them out to the other side. What if I missed something along the path that was vital? What if we couldn’t work together well and they hated me at the end? So many what ifs….

After over a month of this dream (no…. nightmare is more like it), I knew I had to make a decision quickly because I needed to have a solid and confident decision so I could begin mapping it out and preparing our family for the journey this year. After careful consideration we decided to venture down Path #3. We have been traveling on Path #3 for almost 4 weeks now and so far we have hit some roadblocks, bumps, and we even have a few bruises. I had to carry backpacks because the kids weren’t ready to be completely independent yet. We had to change up our routine and schedules. But we are getting our into our stride now and everyone is beginning to pull their own weight. There have even been a few laughs along the way!

Is this year going to be difficult for us? YES! Is it going to be difficult for all families no matter which path they choose? YES! Can we find joy on the path? ABSOLUTELY! God has promised us that in Psalm 30:5 (MSG) “The nights of crying your eyes out, give way to days of laughter.”

Though the sorrow may last for the night….. His joy comes in the morning!

Psalm 30:5

I also have to remember that this journey we are all on as parents is ultimately re-shaping us. God can use this time of trial to test our faith and show us His goodness. We are a blessed group to go through this because He promises that too in James 1:2. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” God knew when before we were born that we would be living through this time in history. He created us to do this! If we can rely on Him and continue to seek His guidance and grace (which we will need both daily), we can get through this and come out BETTER on the other side.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

James 1:2

So as we begin down this path, let’s remember to support each other no matter what path we are on. Let’s pray for each other. Let’s encourage each other. Let’s support each other when the path gets rough. Send a care package, make that phone call, or write that letter. How can you encourage another family this week as they start their adventure down their path this month?

Finding your “Sacred Place”

Finding your Sacred Place

I have always needed a place in my life to just be quiet and still. I needed a place to go where I could be vulnerable and uninhibited. I needed a place to just be with God so I could worship Him, pray to Him, and just be still with Him.

The place I am talking about is “The Sacred Place.”

According to the Merriam- Webster Dictionary the definition of sacred is

“1adedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity,Merriam-Webster dictionary

For many years my sacred place was my car. During my morning and evening commute that time because “sacred” because I could freely dialogue with God about my day. Sometimes I would thank Him for the beautiful sunset, thank Him for being present in my day, or just be still with Him. Other times my car became a sanctuary where I would worship Him in songs, uninhibited and praising Him at the top of my lungs. It was a blessed time during those commutes, many times filled with sweet whispers of that “still small voice in my soul” filling my life with truths.

However once I became a stay-at-home mom and lost my commute time in the car I lost my sacred place. Instead I found myself crying out to God when I was at my breaking point and only going to Him when I needed something. I never took time to be still and just worship with Him.

The first time I found that place again was 3 months after my youngest Lucy was born. I was sitting in my first Hearts at Home conference, a conference for moms of all ages and stages. In the first five minutes I realized that today was all about God and me! It was time carved out so we could be in that sacred place together. So in the midst of 2000 other mothers I found my sacred place that day.

Now that my children are a little older and in school most of the day, I have found my sacred place happens in one of the most unexpected places…. the shower! It is the perfect place! Where do we find ourselves belting out songs of praise with worship leaders like Meredith Andrews and Lauren Daigle at the top of our lungs without abandon??? The shower! We only have an audience of One and He loves it when we worship Him with our any inhibition. We are also at our most vulnerable and completely naked (literally) before our King. No hiding anything here! No trendy clothes that hide our wobbly bits….no makeup to hide behind….. just completely exposed! The best part of this whole thing is that when we are giving ourselves completely in worship to the King here and we become emotional (I tend to cry often when I’m being real and raw with Jesus), the water from my shower washes away my tears.

The shower has come my little sanctuary where I can dialogue with God about anything and worship Him to the full extent! But that shower may not be everyone’s sacred place. I know many women that find their sacred places while running, some go out into a field, some find a quiet place at the park.

Sacred places have been around throughout the Bible as well.

  • Moses had Mount Sinai where He experienced the presence of God in the burning bush.
  • Many men in the Old Testament had the temple (the Holy of Holies) where God lived.
  • Even Jesus found His sacred place where He was vulnerable with God in a small place in the Garden of Gethsemane before going to the cross.

We all need a place where we can commune with God. God wants to meet you where ever it is!

Where is your sacred place where you can meet the King uninterrupted to worship Him?

 

When Christmas Comes Early….

 

When Christmas Comes Early

It’s that time of year again! It’s the holiday season!

I recently came across an article on Facebook about how psychologists have determined that people who decorate early for Christmas are truly happier people. These posts have been posted and re-posted again all over my social media. Being one of those people who can’t wait to start the Christmas season I was excited to find out that my “pre-holiday excitement” is actually good for me! Many of my friends and family members are also in this same state of mind. Then I asked myself

“Why are we as a society so anxious to get the Christmas season started?”

Every year it seems signs of Christmas start showing up earlier and earlier in the retail world. I even got my Hallmark ornament preview invitation as early as June this year! Hobby Lobby and other craft stores begin their holiday sales before school starts. Many other retail stores also begin putting our their Christmas decor/gifts as soon as Halloween ends (give or take a few days).

I know many people don’t like seeing Christmas before Thanksgiving has happened, but for me I have an overwhelming underlying joy from seeing the brightly colored bows, festive green trees, and hearing Bing Crosby singing “It’s Beginning to Look like Christmas” over the speaker system while shopping through the stores. And I don’t feel like I am alone.

Next weekend (the weekend before Thanksgiving) we are decorating our house for Christmas — the tree, the mantle, etc! We will be watching the Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas movies on repeat and playing all of our favorite nostalgic Christmas tunes! Why? Because of the hope, peace, joy, and love Christmas brings to us all!

As I was reflecting on WHY the world is so anxious for Christmas, myself included, I decided it’s because of what the season means to so many of us. Christmas is a time of advent which is a time when we remember and anticipate the arrival of Jesus. When we light the advent candles they represent our feelings of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. These are things our world desires whether they are celebrating Christmas as Christians or not. It seems that during the holidays people are a little bit kinder or more giving. People smile more and wish each other well! There is an overwhelming season of peace (even when it seems crazy and chaotic).

Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

So if you find yourself singing “Silent Night” or “Joy to the World” early this year, is it because you really are desiring and pursuing Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love? Don’t feel guilty because you are celebrating “early” this year….. because we need to celebrate Jesus all year long! Embrace Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love today and everyday —- feel Christmas all year long! Celebrate the Gift that was given to us from our Heavenly Father and share it with all you encounter.

Happy Holiday Season my friends!