Thursday, October 31, 2013

Day 31 :: The Conclusion: Carrots and Trust

The other day we went out and picked the last of our beans from the garden and some carrots that have been growing for months.  We've never grown carrots before, and we weren't exactly sure when to pick them.  We ended up with quite a crop!

It was interesting to pull the carrots from the ground.  The tops would be tall, full of leaves, and from all appearances, I would think that carrot would be huge.  Then, when I pulled it up, I was shocked to find the carrot was tiny, maybe only an inch.  Some of the bigger carrots were smaller on top.  The growth of the fruit was only evidenced by its roots, the part that wasn't visible at first.

It's that way with us, too.  We dig deep roots, that secret to thriving, and as we do so we can thrive.  Not looking to the outside for evidence of thriving, but looking to our heart, that fruit that is produced in a life of obedience to Christ.

And so I conclude by going back to the verse in Jeremiah that I shared in the beginning of this series.  Only this time I want to start a few verses earlier.  Jeremiah provides a wonderful contrast:

"Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.  He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come.  He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." - Jeremiah 17:5-8-

I think the times when I'm not thriving it boils down to the fact that I have missed the simple practice of trusting in God.  I fail to thrive when I start trusting in myself.  I trust myself to make my kids obey, my husband love me, finish all of the things that need to be done, and try to look good while I do it.  

I don't want to be a shrub in the desert.  But that's what I'm likened to if I trust in myself. 

A tree that needs not fear in the drought?  Always producing fruit?  That's what I'd like to be.  And, so I make every effort to trust in the Lord.  

I trust in Him to give me the grace to do anything.  I trust in Him to mold me and shape me to become more like Him.  I trust Him with the things in life that bring me sorrow, knowing that He is using them for my good and His glory.

And, then, when I put my trust in the Lord, over and over again, I can send my roots deep to the stream of Living Water, and I can thrive.

For a list of all posts in this series go here

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Day 30 :: Productive or Fruitful?

My mom and dad visited a few weeks ago.  I love it when they come because it always refreshes my soul.  As we always do, we started talking about life--the good, the bad and the ugly {at least my ugly}--and we began to talk about thriving.  {Yes, my mom reads my blog}.  She shared with me some of the things she had recently heard at a retreat she attended.

One thing she shared stuck out to me as it relates to thriving.  The speaker had said something like, "We must not confuse being productive with being fruitful."

This has been a good reminder for me, especially during this season of my life.  If I thought that it was only possible to thrive when everything on my to-do list was done or I 'had it all together', then I would never thrive.

There's always going to be one more thing to do.  The laundry might get done, but by bedtime that night, more's going in the dirty clothes' basket.

And I will never 'have it all together' whatever that means, because I'm not holding anything together. All that I am or do is Christ at work in me.

So, I'm trying to replace the word productive in my mind with fruitful.

Am I bearing fruit in this moment?

Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:5 -


In order to bear fruit I must abide in Christ.  I must dig my roots deep into His truth.  I must depend on Him for all things.  And I know that it is only by His power that I will do anything.

What is the fruit that we bear?

The fruit that we bear is our obedience to Christ, the fruit of the Spirit that only comes by walking with Him.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..." -Galatians 5:22-23

I can truly thrive when I am abiding in Christ and walking in the Spirit.  Then, my life will be fruitful not because I got a lot done, but because I am a person changed by God.

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 29 :: You have to close your eyes to really see

The furniture is dressed in a fine layer of dust.

A trail of toys makes its way up the steps, some sort of game the girls are playing.

Shapes and blocks left over from a therapy session lie scattered across the living room floor.

There are spots on the kitchen floor, a mixture of grape juice and spaghetti sauce, I think.  And we haven't eaten spaghetti in a few weeks. 

My clothes lie loose around my middle, hiding the wrinkles and excess skin from bearing babies four times over. 

It's a glorious mess, this day in and day out life, and when I open my eyes it's all I can see.

My eyes are open and yet I'm blind.  

Can I look at the dust and thank God for the sunshine?

Can I walk along the trail of toys and rejoice in the imaginations of my children who play together each day?

And those shapes from therapy?  What a wonder it is to watch my little boy strive to crawl and learn new signs so he can communicate with us.

A messy kitchen floor?  I should be grateful for food to eat and a house to live in.

That wrinkly stomach of mine? Well, it's evidence of a miraculous God, creating life and bringing it forth.

Thankfulness, rejoicing, wondering at the awesomeness of God -- these are the things that I want to focus on in the day in and day out that I live. 

A friend's Facebook status a couple weeks ago said, "God, give me eyes to see your reality today, to see all the things that I can't see."

God's reality is found in the eternal, the things that are unseen.  Sometimes it takes closing my eyes to really see.

When I close my eyes I can see God's hand at work as I dwell on Him.  

I can see little children who need Jesus rather than seeing the messes that they make. 

I can see a woman who, although scarred by childbirth, is being changed by God through her children.

So, I'm learning to pause during my day in and day out glorious mess of a life, close my eyes, and re-focus my sight on those things that I can't see.  

The eternal things.

The Eternal One.

No longer blind, I see Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.  

Now, when I open my eyes, I can "look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

To really thrive I need to close my eyes. 

Close my eyes to the day in and day out and open my eyes to the wonder of the Eternal.  

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 28 :: When you just want it to be normal

Many times after our son was diagnosed with Down Syndrome I found myself thinking, "If only things could be normal again."

I finally uttered the words to my husband and I remember him gently, and yet forcefully, saying, "Lauren, this is normal."

I find that it's easy to wish for life to be different than what it is.  To look forward to the day when things will slow down or be what I had always pictured.

Life doesn't happen that way.  There may not ever be a time in my life that I would consider 'normal'.

Normal is busy days, sleepless nights, sick kids, change, loss, longing, transition, unexpected circumstances, relational turmoil, suffering.

Normal is life in motion and sometimes normal means I will hurt and grieve and experience sorrow.

Sorrow because it's not what we wanted.  Sorrow because we can't change it.  Sorrow because it's so hard to deal with the stuff of this moment that all I can do is cry.

Is it possible to thrive in these moments of sorrow?  Is God's grace really sufficient even for the most seemingly un-normal things I'm facing?

I'm learning that it is possible.

It is possible to thrive in my sorrow because I'm just a simple jar that God has chosen to fill with "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God." {2 Corinthians 4:6}

So, I can say with the apostle Paul:

"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.."  2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Nancy Guthrie, in her book, Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow, says:

"To experience and exude peace when life is crashing down around you, to have the lightness of joy when the weight of sorrow is heavy, to be grateful for what God has given you when you've lost what is most precious to you -- that is God at work on the interior of your life, on display in your life.  It is the light of God piercing the darkness of this world."

You see it's not about removing sorrowful things that will make us thrive, it's about running to God in the midst of our sorrow.

What?  That's not what I want!  Often that's how feel, right?  We just 'want it to be normal again'.

Guthrie goes on to say:

"When Jesus offers himself to us in the midst of our pain, most of us think, That's it?  That's the best you can do?  I was hoping for more.  The truth is, we're often more interested in getting what God's got, not getting more of God.  We've put in our order for a miracle of healing or relief, and the miracle of his presence to us seems like the consolation prize."  {Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow, p. 118}

The grace of Jesus, the presence of Jesus, the truth of Jesus -- these are the things that will enable us to thrive in this normal sorrowful life.  HE is what we need to thrive.

I don't know what your normal life is like right now.  But I would guess that some of you are experiencing sorrow in one way or another.

Will you run to Jesus with your sorrow and allow the power of His presence to fill you up?

Will you trust Him in the midst of your sorrow and watch how He changes you?

Let's embrace this normal life with the sorrows that it brings, and trust that God is using it to put Himself on display, and let us thrive.

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Day 27 :: Prayer for a Full Life

Do you ever take a moment before closing your eyes at night to refresh your soul?

Is it possible that by turning your thoughts heavenward you could enter into a more peaceful night's rest?

In the quieting of our hearts and minds we find a perfect peace that can only come from time with the Lord.

And our bodies can thrive in a sleep refreshed by spiritual truth.

Susie Larson, radio show host, national speaker, and author, has written a wonderful book titled, Blessings for the Evening, Finding Peace in God's Presence.

Her short prayers remind of God's truth, encourage with God's promises, and refresh with thoughts about Him.  This book is an excellent way to incorporate spiritual truths into those quiet moments before you drift off to sleep.  Your heart and mind will be blessed to rest so that your body can relax and be refreshed in sleep.

A Full-of-Life Life

May God surprise you with moments of grace and refreshment.

May He bring the long-awaited breakthrough.

May He bless you with sudden belly laughter and watery-eyed joy.

May He give you a gift that you least expect.

And may He inspire you to pray more audaciously than you ever have before.

He is with you and for you.

 -excerpt from Blessings for the Evening by Susie Larson-

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for writing a review.  All opinions and photos are my own.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day 26 :: Bake Something with Pumpkin

It's fall.  The season for mums, pumpkins, sweaters, snuggling with your honey, and soup  {not necessarily in that order}.  And this morning when I got up it actually felt like fall.  Our house is currently 65 degrees, so I had to turn on the heat.  Those little babies upstairs need some warmth!

One way to thrive?  Get in your kitchen and bake something.  Since it's fall, bake something with pumpkin.  Using one can of pumpkin you can make both of the recipes below.  If you don't like pumpkin, certainly someone you know does, so take a loaf of bread to them, or wrap a few scones and deliver them to your neighbor.

Givers and receivers can both thrive!

Go, turn on your oven.  It's pumpkin time.

Quick Pumpkin Bread

1 cup pumpkin
2 eggs
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon {original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice}
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Craisins {optional.  You could also add 1/2 cup of any of the following:  chocolate chips, pecans, walnuts, raisins, white chocolate chips}

Combine pumpkin, eggs, butter, sour cream and vanilla in a mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture.  Stir in Craisins.  Bake in a greased 9x5-inch loaf pan at 350F for one hour.  

Pumpkin Scones

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon {original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice}
1 stick cold butter, cubed
2/3 cup pumpkin
3/4 cup half and half*
1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender.  In a small bowl combine pumpkin and half and half.  Stir pumpkin mixture into flour mixture until  combined.  Stir in chocolate chips, if desired.

Pat into an 8-inch square on a floured surface, then cut into 16 triangles.  Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 400F for 20 minutes.

*I used 3/4 cup cream, as recipe calls for, and the dough was too moist.  I had to keep adding flour to my surface just to pat the dough out into a square.  I would recommend trying 1/4 cream at first and see if that would suffice.  

source:  Food Network, October, 2013

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Day 25 :: Does it Help?

After yesterday's post, I had a couple of comments on my personal Facebook page that I wanted to share with you.  I think you'll be able to relate.

The first, a friend of mine who serves as a missionary in Niger, shared about how reading status updates affected her attitude.  This is what she had to share:

So true!! Even from the dusty middle of nowhere! Just the other day I was browsing my facebook wall and all I could think was 'I wish I lived a NORMAL life!!!' Another friend at home has gotten engaged . . . or married . . . or had a baby . . . or sent a kid to third grade . . . or ran a marathon . . . or got a new job . . . or washed his car . . . or painted her kitchen . . . or got excited about a session premier . . . or . . . whatever 'normal' people do these days. It had been a particularly rough 'living-in-Niger' day and I found myself using facebook as a justification to complain and gripe and pout . . . all because I was comparing. 

Thanks for your honesty and transparency, Deb.  I know I have struggled with my attitude after reading my Facebook news feed.

The second, a dear friend of mine made two great points:

And as we imitate Christ we remember that He gave us grace for our failings and shortcomings. How convicting to question whether what we are posting are leading others to feel like failures.

Thank you for the reminder, friend, of God's grace.

Her second point got me thinking.

And rather than typing out my inarticulate thoughts on the matter, I thought I'd leave you with a verse and a question to ponder over the weekend:

Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."

Am I sharing things in my social media platforms that are beneficial, helping others to thrive?

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 23 & 24 :: Social Media & How it Can Affect our Ability to Thrive

Today's post is a combination of Day 23 & Day 24.  Our internet was out yesterday afternoon when I had planned to write my post, so I was unable to get Day 23 up in time.  Thanks for your understanding!

We read a friend's Facebook status and instantly we feel jealous and discontent because we're struggling with something or don't have the ease and comfort their Facebook status says they have.

We browse Pinterest and notice someone has a board about toddler developmental games.  Immediately we start our own board because we think, "If I was really a good Mom, I'd be doing these things with my child."

Our Instagram feeds show pictures of happy children picking pumpkins and running through corn mazes, only to stir up feelings of inadequacy because we can barely get our kids fed, clothed, and bathed without having a complete meltdown.

And Twitter, well reading tweets can make us feel dumb or unimportant because we can't come up with witty sayings about daily happenings.  Or, maybe we feel 'behind' or 'ignorant' because we don't have a Twitter account. Or perhaps we judge others thinking, "Wow, how do they have time to do that?  Certainly they're neglecting something else in their life."  Judgmental attitudes are rampant in the social media realm.

And on and on it goes.  You know what I'm talking about.

Never before have we known so much about the daily happenings of peoples' lives.  Or at least, glimpses of others' lives.  The window of social media allows us to 'see' things that when handled in the wrong way can affect our ability to thrive.

Somehow we've fallen into the trap of believing that what others do is the measure of how we should live our lives.  We compare and if we find ourselves lacking, we try to imitate.  This 'wanting to be like everyone else' isn't only a struggle in adolescent years; with the rise of social media we're battling this temptation more than ever before.  And it's not because we want to be popular, it's because we think that if we're not doing what someone else is doing, somehow we've failed.

And if we fail, we don't thrive.

So we live in this vicious cycle of comparing, imitating, and failing.

By imitating others we lose sight of how we are to truly live and more importantly, WHO it is we are to live for.

Ephesians 5:1 says, "Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children."  

Imitate God.

It's simple.  His standard is the one that I use to measure my life.  His Word should guide and shape my decisions, not what I see happening in my social media feeds.

When I choose to imitate God instead of others, I can thrive because I'm walking with Him, growing closer to Him, allowing His Spirit to work in me, and living my life for His glory.

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day 22 :: Praise for 30 days with me?

My mom has become, in the past few years, a great giver of books.  She reads a book, and if it's good, she sends a copy to me and my sisters.   It's gotten now, to where she hears of a good book, she will buy it and give it to us.  There's even one book that she ordered an entire case of with the intention of handing it out to people that might benefit from it.  We sometimes tease her about this, but really, I love that she is so interested in the spiritual growth of others that she's willing to invest in people in this way.

During my parents' visit last weekend, my mom handed Bradley and me a new pile of books.  One is a book she's been reading through and is really enjoying.  You may have noticed it in one of my stacks of books from yesterday's post.

The 30 Day Praise Challenge contains daily topics of praise, twenty minutes a day, for 30 days.  

I thought this would be an appropriate way to follow up on my 31 Days to Thrive.

During the month of November {which has 30 days}, I'm going to be reading through this book, and I'd love for you to join me!  Each Tuesday, during November I'll post some of my thoughts about the book, and you all can chime in with your own in the comments.  

I wanted to share this with you now, so that you'd have time to order a book, if you're interested in taking this challenge with me.  

Here's what Linda Dillow, author of Calm My Anxious Heart, has to say about this book:

"Whether you are facing cancer, don't have a job, are on a pain-filled healing journey, or are just stuck in a rut that makes life seem unbearable, Becky says you can praise your way out.  It's true; I've watched Becky do just that! And the 30-day praise challenge declares that you can discover your way out of pain and panic through praise!  So take the challenge.  You'll be glad you did!"  - foreword the 30 Day Praise Challenge-

I can only imagine that by having a heart of praise, my ability to thrive in the day-to-day as well as the greater challenges of life will grow.  

Will you join me?

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

You can order a copy of this book by clicking on the image below.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Day 21 :: Afternoon Unplugging

In the better interest of my own sanity and the well-being of my children, I've decided that in order to better thrive, I need to sit down for awhile to read, think, and meditate {I shared about the importance of this in yesterday's post} in the mid-afternoon.  I'd love to be able to have time to do this everyday.  However, I live in a reality of laundry, chores, feeding my family, etc., so to take time everyday for this probably won't happen.

Nightstand stack
For now, I'm going to try and take at least one afternoon a week, when the younger two are napping and the older ones are playing by themselves, to read something that will point my thoughts toward the Lord and my walk with Him. 

No social media, no computer, no phone, nothing electric{okay, maybe a lamp}, just a book, a cup of coffee, and occasionally a scone {pumpkin scone recipe coming soon}.

Maybe then I'll be able to catch up on all of the books that have been collecting around my house.  Between my Mom's gifting them to me, and my recent purchases, I have a few stacks.

Family Room Stack

Would unplugging for some afternoon quiet help you to thrive?  

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day 20 :: Meditate on Truth

"Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding." 
Proverbs 23:23

"Dear friends, we must buy truth even if the price is ever so dear.  Every parcel of truth is precious, as the filings of gold.  We must either live with it, or die for it.  As Ruth said to Naomi, may gracious spirits say, 'Where truth goes, I will go, and where truth lodges, I will lodge, and nothing but death shall part me and truth.'  

A man may lawfully sell his house, land and jewels, but truth exceeds all prices, and must not be sold.  It is our heritage and joy (Psa.119:11).  Our forefathers have bought truth with their blood.  We should be willing to lay down anything that we may purchase this precious pearl.  

It is worth more than the heavens and the earth, and it will make men live happily, die comfortably, and reign eternally. 

 In seeking truth, remember it is not hasty reading, but serious meditating upon holy and heavenly truths that make them sweet and profitable to the soul.  

It is not the bee's brief touching of the flower, but her abiding upon the flower that draws out the sweet.  It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most, that will prove the sweetest, wisest, and strongest Christian.  

Also, it is not the knowing, talking, and reading man, but the doing man that will at last be found the happiest man.  If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.  

Judas called Christ Lord, and yet betrayed him.  How many Judases kiss Christ, and yet betray him; in their words profess him, but in their works deny him; they bow their knees to him, and yet in their hearts despise him; they call him Jesus, and obey him not as Lord.  

Read and labour to know, but that you may do, or else you are undone forever.  You will have two heavens -- a heaven of joy, peace, and comfort on earth, and a heaven of glory and happiness after death."

-taken from Voices from the Past, excerpt by Thomas Brooks

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Day 19 :: Make Your Bed

Growing up, we were required to make our beds everyday.  No questions asked.  I guess it sort of stuck with me through the years and it's become a habit.

I can remember one day in college, running late for my 8AM class, and leaving my bed in a disheveled mess. As soon as I could get back to my dorm room, I quickly made up my bed and the world was right again.

Even to this day, our bed is made every single day.  If I wash the sheets, I have to make up the bed before I get into at night, even if getting into is ten minutes away.

Some might call this OCD, and I guess I would agree, but it really does help me to feel better.  Our bedroom is a retreat for us, quiet at the end of the day, a space for my husband and me to connect, and I like to keep it pretty clear of clutter and mess. {My dresser is the exception.  For some reason I just can't keep it clean!  Bradley has suggested a dresser with a slanted top so everything will fall off; maybe I should try that}.

In some weird way, like having a wreath on my front door, making my bed every day helps me to thrive.

So, go make your bed.  You'll feel better.

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Day 18 :: I Need Others in Order to Thrive

I walked into church this past Wednesday night with my three month old in the moby wrap, my 18 month old, who can't walk yet, resting on my hip, and my two sweet girls walking beside me.  I had a meeting to attend, my husband was working, and this was my first time bringing all the kids to church by myself.  I had thought through how it would go, down to the fact that I would walk slowly down the steps so as not to drop a child. As I walked through the front door, I realized that we were going to make it.  "Yes! I can do this!", was my thought.

A sweet friend, mother of six, must have seen me come in and before I made it to the top of the steps, she came and said, "Can I help you?"

I wanted to say, "No, I've got this; we're good."

I struggle with asking for help.  I struggle to admit that I'm not able to do as much as I like.

I struggle with pride.

I've really tried to evaluate what it is that keeps me from wanting to ask others for help, to allow them to help me carry my burdens.  Sometimes it's because I don't want to bother them.  Occasionally I choose to not ask for help because it's quicker and easier {in some ways} to just do it myself.

But, I really think it boils down to the fact that somewhere I've gotten the idea that if I ask for help, or receive help when it's offered, it means that I'm less than what I should be as a Mom, as a person, and people will judge me for just not having it all together.

This is a ridiculous lie.

A sweet friend, prompted by the Holy Spirit, sent me an email on Wednesday, and reminded me of an excerpt from a Bible study we had done together last fall.  It's taken from Tim Keller's book, Gospel in Life, in reference to Galatians 6:2, which says, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."  Here's Keller's commentary on that verse:

"There is a hidden reciprocity in Galatians 6:2 that should not be overlooked.  Notice it does not say "carry other's burdens" but "carry each other's burdens."  It means something like this:  'Live in a community where you don't let others carry their loads alone, and where you also don't try to carry your own load alone.  Help others and let others help you."  It is a form of hypocrisy to be willing to help others with their weaknesses but to hide your own or refuse help.  It takes a gospel-changed heart to give help unselfishly to others, and it takes a gospel-changed heart to receive help unashamedly from others.'"

In her email, she went on to say that she would love to help me, and offered some specific things that might be a help.

I needed to be reminded of this.  Has my heart been changed enough by the gospel to realize that God has placed me in a body of fellow believers who function together to serve and love one another?  Do I realize that part of this serving and loving is allowing people to serve and love me?  Why do I feel ashamed when I have to ask for help?  There's no shame in functioning together as a body of believers in love and service toward one another.

1 Peter 4:8-11 says, "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

When my friend offered to help me the other night at church, I wanted to say, " No".

But I decided to let her carry the 18 month old down the steps.

And it felt good to let someone help me.

I'm learning that if I want to truly thrive, I need other people.  Thriving is not a solo act.  To truly thrive I need to release my pride, accept help from others, and allow the body of Christ to function as it ought.

This is glorifying to God.

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day 17 :: Resist or Yield?

One of the challenges that Mason faces with having Down Syndrome is low muscle tone.  For the past year he's been getting physical therapy in order to help him be able to sit, roll over, crawl, walk, etc.  Most children develop these skills naturally, they don't have to be taught.  But for Mason, he needs to be shown how to get out of a sitting position, that his feet are a part of his body and he needs to use them in order to get around, and that he can move a lot faster by doing it on his hands and knees.

Our physical therapist is wonderful and Mason really enjoys her, which is a blessing.  Most days he does well and really tries to improve his skills.  He gets tired during his one hour sessions because he is working those muscles and learning to do things that, for him, are pretty scary.  It's tough.

Yesterday, though, he wasn't having any of it.  He didn't want the therapist to touch him, manipulate him, or be near him.

As he was swatting his arms at her to get away and grunting in displeasure, a chord struck in my heart.

Don't I do the same thing when life is hard?  I might not literally swing my arms at someone but in my spirit I'm resisting and fighting.

Resisting when I grumble and complain.

Resisting when I get so fed up with what's hard in my day that I raise my voice at my kids and throw sarcastic barbs at my husband.

Resisting when I escape to things like social media, TV, or a good book, instead of seeking God in prayer and pouring out my heart to Him.

Mason doesn't realize that the hardness of physical therapy is going to cause him to grow and develop and be able to get around like other kids.  It's going to take some pain, but eventually he will thrive.  He just needs to yield himself to his therapist.

Life might be hard, the days long, but if I but yield myself, my spirit, to what God is doing I can thrive, seeing that what He is doing is for good, for growth, for His glory.

"And we know that for those who love God 
all things work together for good, 
for those who are called according to his purpose." 
Romans 8:28

Are you resisting today or are you yielding?

For a list of all posts in this series go here

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Day 16 :: It's Not Always Pretty

The girls slosh in the backyard, mud creeping up their legs and arms.

They stir and mix, pour and dump.  The mud gets thicker.

I look on in wonder at the enormous mess.

My life sort of looks like this right now, dirt all mixed up with water and I don't like the mud.

Thriving doesn't just take place when it's all clean, smooth, and uncomplicated.

Thriving can take place in the mess.

Sometimes thriving isn't pretty.

Life can be messy.  It's unpredictable, hard, busy, overwhelming.

Is it possible to thrive in the mud of life?

Can I thrive when I pull into the parking lot of Arby's and sob over life's challenges.

Can I thrive when there are bags under my eyes from a sleepless night with a sick baby.

Can I thrive in the midst of disobedient children who need correction time and time again.

Can I thrive when my floors are muddy from those girls who made mud pies in the yard.

I can choose to thrive even when it's messy.

Just like her, I want to see the mess on my hands and smile.

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Day 15 :: Maybe it's my Attitude

In Day 1 of this series I shared Webster's definition of thrive.  Just to refresh your  memory, here are the three definitions again:

1. to grow vigorously
2. to gain in wealth or possessions
3. to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances

There is a continuous theme in each of these definitions and it's one that has surprised me as I've been thinking on this topic and writing this month.

Thriving is a process, not a destination.

We often think that if we're truly thriving we've somehow attained a higher level of life.

 If we go by Webster's definition, though, we see that it's about growth, gaining, progress.  Not full maturity or perfection.

We sometimes talk about life in terms like 'surviving' or 'just keeping my head above water'.  If we say these things does it mean we're not thriving?

It could.

But what if thriving was not about keeping on top of things and getting through another day.

What if thriving was about my attitude?

What if thriving was about my growth in Christ-likeness?

Because if it's about my attitude and my spiritual growth, then I can thrive in the midst of anything.  And my thriving might look very different from yours because we're all at different points in our journey with the Lord.

And sometimes we go through valleys and sometimes we stand on the mountaintop, but isn't it how we do each of those things that is important?

I'm learning about my attitude and how it affects my ability to thrive, so I'm going to talk about that for the next few days, maybe for the remainder of the month.  I don't have it all planned out, but I want to share what God has been teaching me in this area.

For today, though, I want to leave you with a great promise, one that reminds me that my thriving will one day reach maturity, and it's God who is doing the work in me.

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you 
will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." 
Philippians 1:6

  For a list of all posts in this series go here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Day 14 :: Sometimes We Need Courage

There are times in life if we want to thrive, we have to be bold, brave, and step out with courage.

My friend, Laura, has been writing a series on courage this month.  I met Laura in 2005 during training with a mission board.  We had some good talks during the two weeks that we went through training as we both wrestled with where and how God was leading us.  I wound up staying stateside, working for that mission board.  And Laura ended on the mission field.  I've enjoyed keeping up with her journey of service as God has led her in different ways.  Laura has been faithful to the Lord's leading in her life, she's faced some hard things, and from the glimpses that I get into her life, I think she strives to truly thrive through it all.  She currently serves as a missionary in Ireland.

Come on over to The Adventure of Life today and read about what I wrote on Courage in Family and Parenting.

For a list of all posts in this series go here.