A Harvest of Righteousness

A Harvest of Righteousness

The autumn sun cast a warm glow across the living room floor, where I sat in the midst of a group of 10 strangers. We were visiting a small group from a new church for the first time, and we were going around the room, taking turns reading as we worked through the book of James. As my turn approached, I felt apprehensive. I am a natural introvert, and though I’m a good reader, the thought of fumbling words in front of a room of people I’d just met had me on edge. Still, I bucked up and began to read.

My portion was from James 3, the wisdom that comes from above. I read over the familiar words about jealousy and selfish ambition, not giving much thought as I worked my way through carefully (so as not to embarrass myself). Then I came to the last verse, a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:18 ESV).

Peace. What did I know of peace? Here I was in a group of strangers. Again. You see, we have recently moved to a new town – our 7th move in my husband and I’s five years of marriage. Seven moves – some across town, some cross country. Add to that mix two babies. From the moment we said “I do,” it’s felt like a whirlwind of change, so peace sometimes fell between the cracks of chaos and mayhem.

I don’t know about you, but seasons of sudden change bring out the worst in this Type-A, planner of a gal. I get anxious, overbearing, irritable. Yet, the words of that verse stuck with me the rest of that day. And the next day. And the one after that. They would emerge at random moments, and I would roll them over in my mind. Since it was the beginning of fall, messages of harvest were everywhere. I was at my local crafts store, browsing the fall home décor, when it struck me: A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

God met me right there in the 40% off section to open my eyes to an area of sin in my life. I had not been making peace with the recent changes. Though my mind trusts in God’s sovereignty, including this move, my heart was still striving against it. Why? I think James explains it: worldliness. My attachment to my world was sowing discord in my heart. You see, James says that as we seek friendship with this world, we move further and further away from sowing peace with God. In fact, loving the world makes us enemies of God himself. This isn’t a harvest of righteousness – it’s spiritual drought.

We all do this – we all chase stuff. We all choose between the love of God and love of the world, and left on our own, we would choose the world every time. But God gives more grace. He seeks us, woos us, and draws near to us as we come to him humbly – cleansing us and purifying our hearts through the gift of repentance. So that, a harvest of righteousness is sown in in our lives by God himself, who in his grace makes peace with us through his Son, Jesus Christ.

So what season are you in right now? Are you reaping a harvest of righteousness, or are you thirsting in a spiritual drought? Are you sowing peace, or is discord uprooting your heart? 

Motherhood is more than I can handle

Motherhood is more than I can handle Coffee Stains Blog

God will not give you more than you can handle

There is a common phrase Christians repeat to one another in times of trial or difficulty. It is shared as a word of comfort or encouragement to press on. I’m sure you’ve heard it: “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

The concept stems from Paul’s letter to the Corinthian Church when he tells them, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). It sounds nice, doesn’t it? Whenever faced with a hard circumstance or an overwhelming situation, we can keep going knowing that we can handle it, because God won’t give us more than we handle. Well friends, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news: it’s not true. Let me explain.

While this Scripture from 1 Corinthians does teach a wonderful principle that provides divine encouragement in our Christian walk, it does not promise that we will be able to handle all of life’s troubles. Take a look at something else Paul told the Corinthians, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced…we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8).

I want you to read those words again: so utterly burdened beyond our strength. Clearly, Paul had more than he could handle. This fact leads us to an important truth: our strength to endure, whether it be trials or temptations, does not come from ourselves – it comes from God. That’s exactly what Paul says next: “This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God” (2 Corinthians 1:9). Paul then praises God for his deliverance.

Motherhood is more than we can handle

Today started like most days do around our house – the alarm rings at 5:30 a.m., followed soon after by the cries of a hungry toddler. Toast was made and milk was poured, and I sipped fresh coffee while trying to gain full consciousness before the busyness of the morning set in. After breakfast, my babies climbed into my lap for some morning snuggles and Magic School Bus, and I thought to myself (as I do most mornings), I wish I could stay here. I wish I didn’t have to work.

Soon, the flurry of getting dressed, brushing teeth, and rushing out the door had everyone on edge, and I began to lose my cool. As we were about to walk out the door, my daughter decided to antagonize her brother (as siblings do), and I lost it with her. There was yelling and crying, and I was left with the guilt of shame that comes from these moments.

This moment and others like it cause me to think, I can’t do this. I am a terrible mother. Why do I always end up yelling? I’m damaging them for life. There will be years of therapy tied to this single moment from her childhood. Maybe it’s just me, but I would guess that many of you have these moments, too (though maybe not as dramatic. I’m sure only one year of therapy will result from this episode.).

That is because we can’t do it, not in our own strength. Motherhood is more than you or I can handle. When we rely on ourselves for motherhood, we will remain doubtful, overwhelmed, frustrated, impatient, irritable, insecure and maybe even hopeless. But when we recognize that God is the source of our strength (Psalm 28:7), we are “more than conquerors” in Jesus (Romans 8:34), and that “everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4), we know we can have victory in this thing called motherhood.

God’s gracious promises give us the confidence that though motherhood is hard, anything that comes our way – sibling squabbles, potty accidents, strong-willed defiance, sleepless nights , seemingly endless whining – anything, we are capable, in God’s power, of overcoming. God has given you more than you can handle in motherhood, but he also gives you the victory in it. Are you trusting him for it today?

 

God will not give you more than you can handle. Except when he does.

 

5 Scriptures to Pray for Yourself

5 Scriptures to Pray for Yourself

 

Recently, I’ve shared different Bible verses to adapt into prayers for your children and for your husband Today I want to talk about another important person in your life who is in constant need of prayer: you. When I pray, I don’t spend much time praying for myself. I often devote most of my prayer time to others’ needs and requests. If I do spend much time in prayer for myself, it’s generally asking for forgiveness or protection.

That’s why I felt challenged to share this post. When I thought about how I was praying specific requests from God’s Word about my husband’s love for the Lord or my children’s thankful attitude, I realized I need to be transformed by scripture just as much as my husband and children do. Praying God’s Word about myself jumpstarts that transformation. By praying specifically about myself using language taken from scripture, I’m conforming my heart and mind to the image of Christ.

If you’re here today and you don’t spend enough time applying God’s Word to yourself in specific ways through prayer, I hope you’ll be challenged by this like I was. Here are 5 scriptures to pray for yourself:

  1. Replace my insecurities with the ability to trust you and rest in your approval, knowing that if I’m “trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10, see also Proverbs 29:25).
  2. Let my beauty be in “the hidden of [my] heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4).
  3. Give me grace to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, [and] slow to anger” in my daily interactions with my children and husband (James 1:19).
  4. Give me wisdom, strength, and perseverance for the “good works, which [you] have prepared beforehand” for me to do, according to the unique ways you’ve designed me (Ephesians 2:10).
  5. Let me love for others be deep, sincere, and sacrificial, “[loving others] earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22).

Obviously, there are myriad commands and promises in scripture we should apply to ourselves through prayer. This list is just a small portion, but these prayers reflect attitudes or changes that I need God to accomplish in me daily. What scriptures do you pray for yourself regularly?

St. Patrick’s Day Devotional for Kids

St. Patrick's Day Devotional for Kids

St. Patrick's Day Devotional for Kids

 

Happy Monday! Today is the start of Spring Break for our family (my husband works in a school), and we are so ready for the break! Though I’m still working the first part of the week, we are excited to take some time to relax and have some fun, family time together.

One of the things we try to do with our kids each day is read the Bible and pray together. In the interest of transparency, I confess that we don’t always do it every day. However, most nights of the week we put our kids to bed with a chapter from the Jesus Storybook Bible and prayer. Since this week is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be fun to incorporate the holiday into our family devotional time. Did you know that St. Patrick was a missionary? Even after suffering as a slave at the hands of the Irish, he believed God called him to evangelize them, and he is credited with the establishment of Christianity in Ireland. What an incredible testimony!

Anyway, for this St. Patrick’s Day devotional, I’m using my three-year-old’s favorite cereal, Lucky Charms. Or, “the marshmallow cereal,” as she calls it.  Full disclosure, I love them, too, which makes this devotional even sweeter! Now, we normally do our family devotions at night, but since this involves cereal, you might want to start your kids’ day with it. Since our kids will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at their “school”, too, we will do this devotional over breakfast as well.

The best part about this devotional? There is absolutely no work involved. As a busy working mom, I don’t usually have time to make elaborate crafts with our kids during the week. For this devotional, all you have to do is eat cereal and talk to your kids. So simple! That’s my love language, y’all.

As you’re eating the Lucky Charms, you will separate out one of each of the marshmallows. Depending on the age of your kids, you can ask them to identify what shape or object it is. Then, you can explain the biblical significance of each marshmallow using the following Bible verses:

  • Rainbow – God keeps his promises, Genesis 9:13.
  • Heart – God gives us a new heart when we trust in Jesus, Ezekiel 36:26.
  • Star – God made all the stars and gave them names, Psalm 147:4-5.
  • Clover – God is three persons in one, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, Matthew 3:16-17.
  • Blue Moon – God made the moon to give light to the earth in the night, Genesis 1: 18.
  • Red Balloon – He lifts the poor in spirit to be rich in him, Psalm 113:7.
  • Horseshoe – Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God, Psalm 20:7.
  • Hourglass – God makes everything beautiful in its time, Ecclesiastes 3:11.

That’s it! A simple way to enjoy a tasty treat and teach kids about Jesus. What could be better?!

St. Patrick's Day Devotional for Kids 2

 

Photos courtesy of Lucky Charms / Facebook.

5 Bible Verses to Pray for Your Children

bible verses prayers for children

5 Bible Verses to Pray for Your Children

It’s Friday Five time! On Fridays, I like to share lists of five things about life and/or motherhood. Sometimes it’s fun random stuff, like which fictional characters would be awesome in real life or links + loves from that week. Other times, it’s more meaningful, like today’s post, which is all about prayer.

When you become a parent, your prayer life changes. When you have a newborn, you beg God for just one full night of sleep. When your children become toddlers, you pray for patience and self-control and just one hour of quiet, alone time because their life depends on it. When you’re away from your children, you struggle with fear and worry and you plead for their safety. When you face parenting crises, you fall on your knees for wisdom and grace. Praying gets you through the trenches of parenting, because parenting is hard, but God’s grace abounds in it.

One of my favorite models for prayer is praying scripture back to God. Using this approach has changed my prayers for my children. Using bible verses to guide my prayers allows me to lean into the promises of God and apply them specifically to the lives of my children. Here are 5 bible verses to pray for your children:

  1. Early in life, fill my children with love for you, that they would love you “with all [their] heart and with all [their] soul and with all [their] mind” (Matthew 22:37-40).
  2. Fill them “with the knowledge of [your] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of [you], fully pleasing to [you], bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).
  3. Help them to be thankful, “giv[ing] thanks in all circumstances,” and to be content, for “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Thessalonians 5:18; 1 Timothy 6:6).
  4. Grant me wisdom and strength to raise my children in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
  5. May the “favor of the Lord our God be upon [them] and establish the work of [their] hands” (Psalm 90:17).

What are some of your favorite bible verses to pray for your children?