Last week was a challenging one for me.
Well, most weeks are challenging these days. They are a constant battle between time flying by; never enough minutes in a day, and time dragging so slowly that bedtime can't come quickly enough. I know so many of you other moms have been there.
But last week, in particular, I had some little sickies. My 2.5 year old is already a bit over dramatic about...life, so when she's sick...boy, let me tell you...
She was a beast. Nothing could go her way. She was too tired to function, but having difficulty sleeping with congestion. Tantrums on the floor for little to no reason became my norm for a few days, and my poor 5 year old (also sick by the way), took more hits, bites, and kicks from her than I could count, God bless his patience.
By the third day of this, I was losing patience quickly, and every muscle in my body ached. My back felt so tight, it hurt to breathe. I needed my own mommy melt down, but I didn't have the time. Every time I even went to the bathroom, Charlotte was banging on the door. One particularly quiet moment, I sneaked off to my room to stretch my back and catch my breath. I didn't touch any lights. I didn't close the door all the way, so as not to arouse suspicion of my whereabouts, but I was temporarily out of sight.
thump thump thump
Charlotte found me. In the midst of her quiet, happy moment, watching her favorite show, she left and found me. She always finds me. In the bathroom, in the shower, in the bedroom; lights out...she seeks me, and she finds me.
You see, children are like that. If they have a need, they seek you. If they have a desire, they seek you. If they have a joke they want to share, they seek you. If they are crying and hurting, they seek you.
"And he said: 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." ~Matthew 18:3-4
God is not hiding in His bedroom. He is not hiding behind a locked bathroom door, pulling His hair out. God is there for the finding! What if we sought Him like children? What if we looked for Him in everything we did, whether it was to cry, or to tell a very long winded, repetitive story, no one else finds the least bit entertaining.
What if we sought after God with the diligent determination of a child looking for their mother, in the bathroom?
I want to try that this week. I want to be that child that says, "God? Hey, God?? Let me tell you all about my day. I promise to not leave a single thing out!"
Last week, I began playing around with the Instagram feature, stories, in an attempt to be hip in the social media/business/marketing world. Yes, I realize that using the word, hip, completely contradicts my goal, but I digress.
While doing this, I learned some things, which I divulged in a social media video, which by the way, made me incredibly uncomfortable! Watch the video at the end for more insight.
Long story, short, I discovered that my own insecurities about being on camera, or being seen in general, had begun to rub off on my 8-year old daughter. Not ok.
I turned to the Bible for context, and more information about loving oneself, and made some interesting discoveries. Truth? There really isn't much in the Bible about loving yourself. Why? Well, it is believed to be implied. It is believed that we come by this quite naturally. That naturally, we feed ourselves and clothe ourselves, bathe ourselves, and just generally love ourselves by association.
"After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church--" ~Ephesians 5:29
Instead, we are told to, "love your neighbor as yourself." ~Matthew 22:39
Loving ourselves is implied. We are already doing that...right?
Times are a lot different now. Not that it makes the Bible untrue. I certainly don't mean that. However, when you look at the context of this implication, within the Bible, you have no choice but to acknowledge that things were very different. For instance, when Ephesians was written, we are talking about people who were on this earth at the same time as Jesus. Wrap your brain around that! They were not so far removed from the miraculous birth, death and resurrection of our Savior! Then add in the fact that there were no phones, no computers, no TVs, no cameras. You know, the glass mirror still had yet to be invented!?
Fast forward to a day and age where we can compare ourselves to absolutely anyone else on the planet, inundated with photos of celebrities. We can make ourselves over, into someone completely unrecognizable with some great make up and a little know-how. We can look at ourselves in mirrors practically all day, and even take our own pictures within seconds.
But are we loving ourselves? What are we saying to ourselves, and, perhaps unintentionally, to our children? What are we feeding ourselves? Our spirit? Putting into our bodies? Our minds? Our lives?
Somewhere along the line we have tricked ourselves. We've allowed ourselves to believe that loving ourselves actually has something to do with our looks. We've been deceived into believing that embracing our look, our bodies, our physical uniqueness, is self love.
It could quite possibly, be a result of self love, but y'all, we are kidding ourselves with what is truly important. Our looks are seasonal. They are all a part of the season of life we are currently in. The Bible doesn't talk about loving what we look like. The Bible talks about taking care of our bodies as a temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us. It talks about rest (on the Sabbath). The Bible even talks about the importance of hygiene.
So, when we hear, "Love your neighbor as yourself," how do we interpret that, if we do not love our true selves? We can put on our faces, add our filters, and take selfie after selfie, and still not truly grasp this concept, because we are loving the wrong things.
This week, I want to encourage you to pray, and ask God to show you the you that He loves. I am going to do this too! You might be surprised by His answer. It might even come with a call to service. But I pray that you find love for the you that God created, and by extension, stop hiding.
Fearlessly be the you who was so fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
When you give, when you are generous with your possessions, money, time, ideas, heart; you name it, why do you do it? What drives you to give? What is your motivation?
See, being generous with people is not just about money, or things. Sometimes it's about being there for them when they need you. Sometimes it's about lending an ear or helping them problem solve. Sometimes it is simply about showing them a kindness.
Yet so often I see quotes about what we deserve in return, or how you shouldn't waste your time doing for someone who wouldn't do the same for you. Not from strangers so much. We give to them much more easily, but when it comes to loving and giving to people we know, we tend to expect something in return. Maybe we have certain expectations for how they should use our gift. Maybe we have opinions on how they should respond, and maybe we don't like the way that they do.
***Before I continue, I want to make something very clear. I am not talking about abusive relationships here. That is a different topic and does not apply here. ***
But here's a serious heart check. Why are you giving?
We cannot control what a person does with what we give them. We cannot control how they respond to us, but we can control how we allow that to make us feel.
When we give generously to people, without expectation or strings, there is this inexplicable peace! When we allow bitterness and resentment to creep into our head-space, based often on unfair or unrealistic expectations, it brings the opposite of peace, my friends. It steals your joy.
A person cannot make you feel bitter or resentful, used or taken advantage of. They do not hold that power. You do. When you allow your expectations to rule your emotions, your service suffers. That joy, that peace, the light within you dims.
There is this episode of Friends, The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS, where Phoebe sets out to prove to Joey that there is such a thing as a selfless act. Joey informs her that, in fact, there is not, because it feels good to perform a selfless act, therefore, making it selfish.
Y'all, it does feel good to be generous, to be kind, to give of yourself, your talents, your gifts. Maybe there really isn't any such thing as a selfless act, but don't allow your expectations to taint your service. You control how you give, and you control how you feel about it. You can either be bitter and resentful, or you can let that light shine, and choose to be joyful and grateful for the opportunity to serve.
Jesus served. Jesus loved without conditions, and we are all called to, as well!
So, are you serving, or expecting?
**Some language in the video, so beware of little ears.**
Last week, I touched on our gifts and talents, and how we should not lose heart in pursuit of our dreams. I told you a little bit about my background as a basketball player.
This week, I'd like to talk to you about what happens when we have to leave those dreams behind.
My gifts, hard work, and dedication, got me as far as a Division I college scholarship, only to become hurt and unable to complete my career, less than half way through my four years.
I will keep this brief for the sake of time, but any of you who have ever spent years; more than a decade even, working toward a very specific goal, know very well the disappointment and devastation that occurs when it is all so rapidly stripped from you. I will tell you, without exaggeration, that I felt like I was grieving the loss of a very close loved one. I was depressed. I was angry. And I was unable to turn to the one thing that provided therapy to me whenever I was hurting in the past; basketball.
Fortunately, at the very same time I was going through this life altering change, where every priority and every goal had to take a major shift, I found Jesus.
Now, listen, knowing Jesus did not spare me the heartache of this process. It did not suddenly take away all of my pain. If I am being honest, sometimes it made it harder. It left me with questions without answers.
Why would You give me such passion, such drive, such talent, only to stop me short?
What was the point of it all? I felt you leading me and guiding me in the pursuit of this dream, even before I really knew you. Why would you take it away?
Ok, I have repented. I am so sorry I put basketball first in my life for so long! But I get it now! Why won't you heal me and restore my career?
I felt broken, and I didn't even know who I was anymore, without this one thing I was inexplicably good at.
But I also felt God's presence. Instead of allowing my anger to distance myself from Him, I turned to Him. I cried to Him. I expressed that anger and hurt, and was even honest with Him about my doubts and questions for Him. It's not like I could hide it from Him anyway!
The whys are not always for us to know, but I do believe that in our brokenness, He will sometimes give us little glimpses.
Just less than a decade after my basketball career ended, I began homeschooling my first 2 children. I hadn't worked outside the home since having children, and though we had a tight budget, and went through some serious financial struggles, I didn't need to. You see, the one thing that separated me from my working mom friends (who really wanted to stay home, but couldn't afford to), was student loans.
A big WHAT IF, popped into my head. What if my dream for a basketball career was never meant to be about basketball? What if my basketball goals were always meant for something more?
Most of us have more than one dream, right? My word I loved basketball! But I always wanted to be a mommy too. In one dream I had an awesome career in basketball; however, in my dreams of motherhood, I was never working.
We are taught that God can use anything for good, and anything to glorify His name. He can use our very own dreams and goals as tools for His divine will. What if my brief college basketball career was designed to set me up as the wife and mother He called me to be, for the children He planned for me to have? This not only effects my life, but the lives of generation after generation which my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren will be a part of.
Dreams can change. Dreams can adapt. Dreams can be bigger than you ever imagined. Leaving a dream behind can hurt. We are not always privy to the bigger picture. In fact, we rarely see what is beyond those dreams, but the fact is, our earthly dreams are never meant to be anything other than temporary. You may not be able to see the bigger picture. Fix your eyes on Jesus. It will be difficult to let go of that dream you've held onto for so long, but you won't want to miss it when He hands you a new one.
Growing up, I was always the tall kid in class. For years I was the tallest one of both the boys and the girls, as well as one of the tallest on the basketball team.
This was problematic because my father taught me the ball handling skills of a point guard, otherwise known (as he would say), as ball handling skills every player should have. He believed in the fundamentals, and I had a natural talent and passion for them, which he was happy to nurture.
Then I played for coaches; many other coaches. And I was the big girl. That was where I fit. That was where I was told I belonged. Without much thought, all of my skills were tossed aside, because I didn't fit the preconceived notion of the tiny, speedy point guard.
But I still did the drills...every single day. I honed my skills. I competed against and challenged myself for speed. My dad researched new and unique drills I could try, once I had mastered others.
By my junior year, my dad had become coach of our high school team, and he did something none of my coaches before had done, he utilized my gifts. Also, he found and used the strengths of my teammates. He thought outside the box, and instead of putting players into a mold, and telling us to stay where we belonged, he redesigned our offenses to fit US. By my senior year, he took our little team of 8 girls; 1 who had never even played before that year, to the District Championship game, beating the 2nd ranked team in the state.
God had different plans for my future and basketball, but that's another story, for another day. Besides, this isn't really about basketball. See, the world will try to pigeon hole you. The world will try to put you in your place. Well-meaning people even, will try to tell you who you are, without even knowing, and if you're not careful, you might start to believe them.
The nail that stands out, gets hammered down. They think you should act a certain way, say certain things, be someone that fits their perfectly shaped puzzle. Often, going through life, through the motions, underutilized, your gifts wasted, can feel suffocating. People will try to nail you down, right where they think you should be, when you know you are destined for more.
Have faith. Don't lose heart. God didn't give you gifts just to sit on them. Maybe you need more practice. Maybe you need more direction. Maybe you just need to wait for God's timing. Maybe (definitely) you should pray, and ask God to show you how your gifts can best be utilized.
God invented thinking outside the box. When we think we have answers or solutions, He shows us a way we'd never thought of before. His ways are are not our own.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. ~Isaiah 55:8
He sees you. He knows you. He created the very dreams that are within you. So don't cast them aside, not even for the world.
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.
Want the Monday Message sent to your inbox each week? Sign up here!