To all you moms
You who have wiped the tears from our eyes
The snot off our noses
As well as wiping a lot of unmentionable stuff
You sat with us when we were hurting
Prayed for us when we were stupid (or someone was stupid to us)
Taught us in our Sunday School classes--even though the last thing you wanted to do was prepare a lesson for sleepy, grumpy teenagers
Took us shopping to the stores we INSISTED on going to
to buy us the thing we had to have, and would be over before the season ended
You stayed up late with us
Got up early with us
Read to us
even considered our picky selves when you bought groceries and planned meals
You believed in us
Told us when we needed the honest truth
Invited our friends in
Loved us when we were far from loveable
You doctored us
You taxied us
You brought all of our forgotten papers, helmets, shoes...
You taught us to care for others
So many of you were single moms raising us, having to do the jobs of both dad and mom. You did what you had to do and made it over even the largest obstacles. We are inspired by you.
You laid YOU down for us way too often. We thank you for caring.
You gave us the very best you could and you cried when the best you had at the time didn't seem So good. We love you for loving us.
You always wanted the best for us. The older we got the less room we gave you to offer input. You let us grow up (and make some mistakes). Now we appreciate you.
When everybody else or everything else seemed to be against us, you were always for us.
And to beat it all, when we were mad, angry, or hurt who did we take it out on? You loved us in spite of the hurt we caused you.
It wasn't until we began to walk in your shoes that we began to see ourselves in our kids and you in us.
Waves of appreciation and gratitude well up inside of us as we realize how hard your job has been and how little gratitude you have received.
Today we all join in one chorus to say the most heartfelt and genuine "THANK YOU" ANYONE has ever written.
I wrote this for my mom, Bettye Labry, who has been all of these things to me an so much more.
But I also wrote it for all moms. Wether you are just starting out and are beginning to appreciate your mom more and more...or wether you are our moms who have laid this beautiful path before us--this is for you.
Over the last year I have been learning so much about affirmations. It is true, "The power of life and death are in the tongue." Unfortunately, often times we err on the side of death when choosing our words.
What we say matters.
Whoever came up with the saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," did not know what they were talking about. Tons and tons of damage has been done in the hearts of people BECAUSE of words.
It is time to take back those "years the locusts have eaten away" and begin to be personally powerful with our words. Regardless of what another person chooses to do with his/her words we can begin to make a difference in our own lives through affirmation.
I wrote a prayer of affirmations for creatives that I shared on the YWAM Sydney website and you can go HERE to read it under the link entitled "YWAM Guest Post". It is specifically for people whose careers are creative (by the way that could be anybody.)
20 Daily Affirmations (click Here for Printable that includes the 15 from pinterest and facebook)
- My prayers matter. They are powerful.
- I will trust in the Lord with all my heart and I "above all else" will guard my heart because it is valuable.
- God is the God of Peace and because of the Holy Spirit lives in me I have peace.
- My peace is a powerful tool created to make a difference.
- God loves me so much and I get to be his child.
- God looks at me and sees Jesus.
- I will believe the best about myself because He believe in Me.
- I will always seek to see others the way God see them.
- The One who is in me is far greater/stronger than anything in this world.
- I will not be afraid. No longer will I partner with fear. Fear no longer has a say in my life.
- My mind is important, but I also value my heart, emotions, feelings...all of myself equally.
- I speak to any mountain before me: lack, stress, anger, resentment, bitterness, depression, worry and I cast it in the sea. My Father is bigger than any mountain.
- I am powerful. I have choices. I will make them wisely and no longer will I bow my knee at the feet of the god of powerless/victim living.
- I am chosen. He picked me for the team. I have been set apart. I have value for these reasons. Because God values me, I will value myself.
- Because the Creator made me I am creative. I can/will impact the culture around me with solutions that will make a difference.
- The truth will set me free. The bonds of this world won't hold me back anymore.
- I will thrive in spite of the circumstances around me because I am defined by who I am, not by what happens to me.
- I am grateful and thankful. There are so many things to rejoice about. I will not waste time complaining.
- I love life. I get to live here and make a difference co-laboring with the Lord until I go and be with him forever. I win today and in eternity.
- I am victorious!
This week I had the privilege of writing a guest post for Better Story Collective. They did a wonderful Lent series that you can check out by clicking on this link https://www.betterstorycollective.com/better-story-blog/the-waiting-place
What is on your "To Do" List today?
On days when your list is long, do you ever feel anxious or hurried? I am asking because I do. The list mocks me and, if I am not intentional, it rules me.
Today my list felt a mile long. It is one of those weeks (months to be honest) when life is full to the brim. I was being distracted by all the things before me.
Of course there was a slow poke in front of me in line. Other people beside me checked out and left. All my stuff lay stacked on the conveyor belt...it was too late to switch lines. I listened as the elderly woman in front of me talk and talk and talk with the cashier.
I have to be honest.
As much as I value the elderly, I was not liking this lady today. Her jabber was slowing me up from checking off my list. I really did not want to hear about her diabetes and how the company that makes this particular canned good was going out of business. I am now embarrassed to type my thoughts, but these are honest truths.
I heard some folks talking loudly across the front of the store. To get my mind off of the eternally long time it was taking me, I began to observe these people. They were obviously a family or close friends. They spoke in a language I had never heard. Large backpacks and lots of children made them look a bit gypsyish. One man was pushing two tiny babies around in a buggy. They seemed quiet pleasant as I tried to figure them out.
In the midst of my distraction I heard the lady in front of me spoke directly to me. I focused in as she is asked me if I heard the cashier say that her son was healed of diabetes. I am instantly engaged. I am also aware that this elderly woman's demeanor had completely changed. When she left she told the cashier that she knew now why she came to Wal-mart today.
It was my turn. I jumped right in and asked the cashier about her son. We began to encourage each other. I told her that it was amazing how the Lord uses her to minister to people as she checked them out. It crossed my mind that her conversation with some customers may be the only conversation they have all day long. She was beaming and so was I. She shared with me how the greeter prayed for a man's hand this morning. As I left she came around and hugged me. We made a new friend.
I found myself smiling as I walked to the parking lot. Even though I could not find my van, I was so touched by this woman's ministry I just wandered around thinking.
I heard the people again. Their strange language is reverberated though the parking lot. They were loading up into multiple vehicles and as I located my van I noticed their license plates.
They had been displaced by Hurricane Ima. The Lord nudged me. "Speak to the them."
I argued. "But they don't speak English. This could be humiliating for us all."
As if to say, "I will make this one easy for you," one of the men headed directly toward the buggy return, beside my van. I remembered what I had seen in the store.
- heavy laden backpacks
- tiny little babies
- lots of people
In spite of my potential embarrassment I began to speak. I did not have a clue what to say, so I just jumped in.
"God bless you man."
He looked at me with a huge smile. Without even waiting for me to say anything else he said, (in perfect English) "Thanks so much!"
I mentioned that I had seen their Florida tags.
His joy continued as he responsed, "YES! And we are headed back now!"
He was obviously thrilled to be going back home. I blessed their return as we parted ways.
I was so busy that I almost missed huge blessings. My list was so big and distracting that I almost failed to see the Lord at work all around me.
I still have so much to do. The list really is not any shorter than it was an hour ago. But I am sitting in my chair typing this out so that I do not forget one single part. I have temporarily kicked that stupid list to the curb.
So if you find yourself in the same place as me, I hope you will remember this story. May the daily grind of your day not overwhelm you to the point that life becomes all about getting the very next thing done.
May we all take the time to love the one in front of us today.
There are people all around us who have hard things going on in their lives.
It sometimes helps our perspectives to look around us (instead of just at ourselves)!
There is so much for which to be thankful, even in the Wal-mart line.
Am I the only person who finds themselves running from one thing to another? Not joking, I will realize that I am literally running in a store. Embarrassing.
Even when if my body is still (does not happen a ton), my mind can still be racing.
The world we live in applauds busyness and celebrates exhaustion. Folks compete with each other, comparing to-do lists. I've been through seasons when I would've been ashamed to admit it if someone called me in the middle of a nap.
Here is the truth....We are not meant to be hamsters on a wheel. (Those little rodents even run on those squeaky wheels in the middle of the night!)
"Come to me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28
Hold it! We GET to make a DECISION about carrying heavy burdens. There are options. We are invited to come to Him and receive rest.
"In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat-for He grants sleep to those He loves" Psalm 127:2.
Working is not bad. But what is the motivation? Do I think I have to prove or earn something?
Am I desiring the approval of man?
This lifestyle is a dangerous way to live. My health has been a struggle when I ran around frantically. A doctor friend of my told me that our stress takes a toll on our bodies...it just does it differently in each one. Maybe its migraine headaches, or ulcers. Might look different for each of us but the struggle is real. Stress stinks in so many ways.
- Our hearts can even ache when there is lack of peace.
- Work can become sloppy.
- Relationships can be compromised without intentionality.
None of these options are best.
The questions I began asking myself are these: Is God be the king of my hearts? Or have I let something else (or someone else) have that place?
"I lift up my eyes to the mountains-where does my help come from? My help come from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth" Psalm 121:1-2.
Do not misunderstand. We aren't meant to be lazy. But this is not an either/or situation. Culturally we tend to swing from one extreme to the other.
I do not want to swing from my hamster wheel into a Lazy Boy recliner and stay there. (Well honestly I do sometimes.)
It's possible to do the work that we need to do from a place of rest. Sometimes this seems impossibile. Just look at this verse, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" Matt. 11:29-30.
We can look at Jesus' life for an example. Jesus understood pulling away from the crowd in order to get filled up. The time He spent with the Father was His time of refueling. These times set an example for how important it is for man to slow down and be still. His relationship with His Dad empowered Jesus to do His ministry with love, grace and peace.
I can hear your voices right now saying, "Yes, but He was God." I understand. But we cannot negate the fact that He was fully man as well. He came to show us how to live.
He stopped for the one.
Jesus touched the untouchables.
He got angry...but His anger was timely and appropriate.
He saw value in everyone.
He washed feet and fed multitudes.
Teaching all the time, He always had a lesson ready.
He also got tired and thirsty and sat down at a well.
He was able to sleep in a boat in the midst of a storm that scared fishermen.
Jesus was constantly about His Father's business but he did it from a peaceful place. Let's try going about our business this week from a different place.
Imagine starting from a quiet place, getting filled up before we ever go out of the house. If we began to feel anxious or angry we can pull away from the crowd and get alone with our good Dad, even if it is just for a moment. "We will find rest for our souls." That is a promise.
I have been known to head to the closet and shut the door. (The bathroom is no good. My kids have some kind of beeper in there that tells them all when I have arrived) It is not passed me to lay down on the floor and have a little talk with Jesus until the peace comes.
If I have a lot going on I have started to be kinder to myself in the midst. I start to consider some options.
- Am I breathing? I will tense up and hold my breath...not good for my body.
- What can I cut out in my schedule that will provide a break?
- How can I teach my children/grandchildren to take care of themselves by my example?
- Are the tasks in front of me ESSENTIAL? (What if I couldn't do them?)
Helping others is something we are created to do...but I can't help anyone else if I fail to take care of me first.
Write and tell us about what you do when you release you need to rest and regroup. What has been helpful to you?
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A few years ago I decided to take a hike. I knew nothing about this trail except that campers had 'run' this same trail for exercise. I was not too concerned, I was just going to be walking.
I had hit a wall.
I just wanted to be on a mountain trail, alone and quiet. I was making space for myself and I really needed it. Taylor was happy to take care of the younger two kiddos so I could go. Shrugging off stupid mom-guilt I headed toward the trail.
The weather was cool and the leaves were gorgeous. Even the acorns were beautiful. Did I mention it was completely quiet?
I thrive in the mountains.
The first 20 minutes were fantastic.
The grade slightly increased. I was excited to think I was getting closer to the top. I saw signs that marked one mile and then two. Surely I was getting close. My anticipation was growing.
The grade increased even more.
The acorns that were beautiful now were slippery. I was having to pay attention to each of my steps instead of admiring the leaves and the birds.
By the time I saw the 3 mile marker I began to become concerned. But I wanted to see the view at the top!
The final part of the hike was literally like climbing stairs. My out-of-shape-self was struggling. I had to be intentional and careful. The very last steps were the hardest.
But every single one was worth it.
The view of the top of the mountain was breathtaking. A hawk was soaring across the expanse. The challenging part of the hike was forgotten. I was so glad I came. I was proud of having completed it. As I sat and soaked in the the miles and miles I could see I was refreshed.
Where are you on your journey?
Have you hit a wall and need a break? Do you need to make time for yourself? What do you love to do? It may not have anything to do with hiking. Give yourself permission to do something that you enjoy...ALL BY YOURSELF.
Maybe making space for you is a personal victory all by itself. Congratulations! So many times we have been taught it is selfish to do something for ourselves. What we are saying is we can place worth and value on everybody else...but not on ourselves. There truth is we are worth a high price to our good Dad. Shouldn't we see ourselves as He sees us?
If you are in the midst of a hard trail I am you cheering you on today. Do not give up. The summit will be worth it. You really can do it!
I can hear some of you now. "But Betsy, you have no idea how hard my journey is." You are absolutely correct. I do not begin to assume I can know your journey. But I know our good Dad. You are not alone. He promises that He will never leave you. If you feel at the end of yourself, lean into the Lord and know that "you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you." (Phil. 4:13)
Last year I did the hike a second time. I shaved 15 minutes off my time and I noticed I was stronger. The exercise over that year had paid off. (I had started taking time for myself to get healthy.) I totally enjoyed it.
This time I passed one group of teenagers doing the hike. They were at the point where the grade had increased and one frustrated fellow turned around and headed back down the mountain all by himself. He did not think he could do it. I prayed for his heart knowing that a teenager just given up in front of friends.
What about you? Have you headed down the mountain? Even if you are at the bottom, it is not too late. Rejoice if you tried. It is good to be thankful for even small steps. But this does not have to be the end of the story.
You can try again. I believe in you.
Part of this crazy adventure we are on is that we have a part to play. It is good to be honest with ourselves about where we have been and at the same time feel empowered to move forward powerfully.
- If you are needing a break....take one.
- Maybe your path has gotten steep and you are tempted to give up...keep stepping. Just take the next step.
- Are there tears in your eyes because you gave up and it hurts? Take heart my friend. Your journey is not over and there are still miles to go. One decision does not get to define the rest of your life.
I would love to hear your stories. What is your journey like? Did you make it to the summit? Or did you head back down the mountain? How do you feel about you story today?
We would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Taking time for yourself is so precious. You really are worth it!
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Have you ever been scared? I mean really scared? This weekend I was scared.
My husband and I were given a trip, from our dear friends, to get away for our birthdays. Two plane tickets were part of the gift. What a blessing! What none of us knew was that our flight would be in a very small plane. This was going to be an adventure.
Little did I know I was headed for a battle with fear.
Our flight to St. Louis was fairly pleasant. We hit one air pocket that led me to pray out loud for the entire group of 8 (including the two pilots). After that it was smooth sailing. We made a friend on the flight who was more scared than I was and she really appreciated the prayer. Thankfully our landing was exceptional. I was so relieved and so thankful. We headed into the city and had a really fun time.
Occasionally a bit of fear about our returning flight would pop into my thoughts and I would intentionally refocus. It was not a big deal at all. I refused to let fear steal from our vacation.
Growing up I was scared most of the time. From the time I was a child until about 10 years ago, I lived in fear. In fact, listing all the fears would be impossible because there were so many. Even as an adult I would check every nook and crevice to make sure that we were safe. I would wake my dear husband up over and over and over because I had “heard something in the house.” It was a miserable way to live.
Then the Great Shift happened. To put into words, I began to know God as bigger. I realized that God is real and that He not only cares about my life but that He choses to be apart of it. I am never alone and the King of Angel Armies is with me.
The night things changed for me there happened to be a real prowler on our street. Neighbors were looking and watching and one of my greatest fears was practically knocking at the door. It was the middle of the night and there was not resolution that I could see. The song "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" came to mind. It was not a song that I sang a lot and was not on my playlist. However, I stood at my window and sang the song to myself.
Surprisingly enough I laid down in the bed and went fast asleep. I have not been the same again.
THEN we boarded the plane in St. Louis to head home. The pilot announced we would have a bumpy flight before we ever took off. I immediately began refuting those words--aloud. I just knew that that flight was going to be smooth.
Guess what? It was the roughest, bumpiest flight I have ever been on (including one broken down African plane that looked like it flew in World War II). I prayed with a fervor. My whole body shook in fear and my husband said he needed prayer because I squeezed his fingers so hard.
I was down right afraid. But this time I leaned into the Lord. About mid-flight it became smoother and Taylor pried my fingers off his hand.
As I relaxed I began to watch the river. I began to write notes about rivers.
Rivers bring life and provide life.
They transport goods and necessities.
Rivers nourish the land.
The water is fun and provides entertainment.
It provides sustenance and beauty.
People come to rivers,
build near rivers,
plant near rivers,
and play in rivers.
Rivers are mighty and powerful.
I remembered the Bible says, "Whoever believes in me, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." John 7:8 This river that I was seeing was a picture of what is flowing through us as believers. Amazing!
And I would like to say the descent was better, the clouds parted and we floated effortless to the runway. But we did not. We bumped and jumped around all the way down. In fact, the descent was worse than the ascent. But my thoughts had a new focus. I was considering the river that flows through us. It changed my prayers. I actually became aware of other scared people on board and began to pray for them as well.
Because of Whose we are, we Christians are like that river.
We bring life and provide life.
In fact we bring what people want and need.
We are fun.
Sustenance and beauty come through us.
People come to us.
We are mighty and powerful because He is might and powerful.
Thinking back, it is not surprising that these thoughts changed my prayers. God became bigger and our flight became smaller. It did not become more pleasant--but my perspective changed.
I do not desire to return to a life of fear. Life with God brings freedom. If anything is standing in our way, be it fear or insecurity (the blank is endless) we need to think about the river that is flowing through us.
There is a great children's song that says,
"I have a river of life flowing out of me.
Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see.
Opens prison doors and sets the captives free.
I've got a river of life flowing out of me."
Our lives can and do make a difference. When we begin to know Whose we are are and who we are we can fly in freedom!