Unexpected Provision…

UnexpectedProvisions...

On Saturday, I made my weekly grocery run with the kids. Unfortunately, my grocery run typically includes at least 3 different stores which takes its toll on an adult, let alone a 3 year old and a 10 month old. That being said, they really are troopers and we made it to our final store, Ingles, without too many incidents.

My oldest had been walking with me around the store instead of riding in a cart. And, like any other 3 year old, he isn’t very aware of his surroundings, so he was constantly walking in front of buggies and other shoppers. He walked in front of a woman I recognized, but I didn’t know if she remembered me, so we kept moving. When I finally had all the items I needed, we headed for the checkout lines.

I usually would do self-checkout because waiting in a line is difficult with kids, but I was redeeming a WIC voucher. These are vouchers for specific foods offered to Woman, Infants, and Children below a certain income line. If you are pregnant, nursing, (up to a year), have an infant or child under 5, you could qualify (check here for more information). So, I needed to use a regular line.

The same lady I recognized from earlier comes and stands behind us in line. She does recognize me now and we chit-chat about my kids and her new flower business as the cashier takes care of my items. (We follow one another on Instagram.) She tells me that she has just picked up her flower bouquets that didn’t sell from a local produce stand. She says, “If it would be worth your time, if you wait for me to check-out, I’ll give you some flowers to take home.”

I, personally, feel that flowers are ALWAYS worth it. As in, I would have flowers on my dining table 365 days a year. I tell her, “Absolutely! That would be great!” We share where we parked. She told me I could go ahead and start loading my kiddos up, and that she would bring the flowers to my van. She did. They were beautiful…not because they were perfect, but because they were a blessing.

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You see, earlier in our grocery shopping trip, we had been at Trader Joe’s. There is a wonderful assortment of blooms there for a decent price. I stood in front of the flowers and looked at the prices. I just wasn’t sure if there was space in the budget for them. I moved on without any. Then, at Ingles, I ran into this sweet woman.

What I didn’t think I could afford, God chose to provide. Not because I needed it, but because my heart desired it. God doesn’t have to give us the desires of our heart, but sometimes He chooses to! That is the amazing, gracious, benevolent side of the God of the Universe. The Provider. We see it in Scripture as well.

22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

Luke 12:22-31

Here we see Jesus telling his followers that just as God cares for and provides for the birds in the air and the flowers in the field, how much more does He care for His beloved children! I actually have a ring with the phrase ‘consider the lilies’ on it to help me remember this truth. (I ordered this ring here from cinnamonsticks on Etsy.)

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So if God cares enough to provide me flowers, just when my heart wanted them, how much more will He provide me with food to feed my family, clothes to cover them, and supplies to care for them.

Let this bring joy and hope to you today!

XOXO,

Elise

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The Worries of Motherhood

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As mothers, we fall into the trap of worry all too often. There are so many balls to keep in the air as moms-so many hats to wear. As I was reading in Luke this week, I ran across the account of Jesus staying behind in Jerusalem.

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
-Luke 2:41-51

As the story unfolds, we see Mary and Joseph searching high and low to find their son, just like any parents would in this situation. Mary reveals that she and Joseph had been “searching in great distress.” Wouldn’t you have been? I know that if I left my middle school boy in a different city and drove a day away from it, then had to drive a day back, I would be a bundle of nerves and worry. That’s a lot of time to come up with ‘What ifs’ and worst case scenarios.  The only difference is that Mary KNEW Jesus was the Son of God. So wouldn’t she have KNOWN that God would protect Him…that He would be safe? Why doesn’t she lean on God as she goes about this search for the Son God entrusted to her? But of course, Mary is just like every other mother on the planet-broken and human. Isn’t that freeing? The mother of Jesus struggled with worry and fear…and she was raising GOD! If we want to compare ourselves here, we only find an ally in our struggles as a mom.

It seems as though Mary is caught up in everyday life as a mother. I know I get caught up in the laundry, tantrums, back-talk, and potty-training. Maybe she has been consumed in this moment with her responsibilities instead of seeing herself as a partner with God to bring up Jesus. This is something I want to grasp, but don’t in the hard moments of the day. When my son tests my patience, I can ask God for help, but usually I don’t. When my children are sick, I can ask God for healing and endurance, but sometimes I forget. When my kids are disrespectful and mean, I can ask God for grace upon grace, but often I yell and back-talk, too. These tiny humans are made in God’s image for His purposes-they are HIS! I tend to put all the pressure of raising up godly boys on myself, which ultimately takes away from God’s divine work and presence. He wants to come along side us as parents.

Instead of trying to do this alone, I want to rest in the beautiful truth that Jesus has redeemed my soul, as well as my parenting! Praise God!

Elise

Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels
https://www.pexels.com/photo/landscape-sky-beach-love-69104/

The Love of a Parent

My two boys tested positive for flu B this week. UGH…will this winter of sickness EVER be over! As the sickness takes its course, I end up with two very tired, fussy boys by dinner time…and there just isn’t enough of me to go around. So I have to choose who to comfort, who to care for first. I hate that about having two kids. It seems so unfair to them. But I know one day they will love having a playmate, a constant friend, and a brother. For now, during this needy time of their life, they simply don’t understand why I am not taking care of them all the time.

Frustrated by the situation I am in every night, I reflected on God as a parent. God had one Son, but then decided to expand His family to include the WHOLE WORLD if they will have Him. That makes my nights of two fussy boys seem like a walk in the park. God has a whole world of needy, tired, weary, broken sons and daughters who are constantly in desperate need of Him.

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Thankfully, He is omnipresent (everywhere at once) and omnipotent (all knowing) so He can handle each person’s needs and brokenness at the same time perfectly.
How amazing…

I am unable to parent this way…at best I only think about myself sometimes when it comes to making decisions about how to parent. At worst, I make parenting decisions based on how I feel, what I want, and what I think I need, while sweeping my children’s needs under the rug.

This reflection has brought me hope…hope for my parenting. Because when Jesus came into my heart, He began REDEEMING all the broken parts of me-how I love others, my parenting, my thoughts, etc. That means that my parenting can and is being redeemed! My mistakes can be redeemed for His glory. My successes are because Jesus has redeemed my heart!

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. -Galatians 4:4-7

Wow…when we receive Jesus into our heart, we are adopted by God and made heirs of his kingdom! I love how Paul highlights that when we experience this change, the Spirit comes into our lives, calling out to the Father on our behalf.

How many times a day do your children call for you? How many times in a row do they say, sometimes yell, your name? Often I get frustrated when this happens, but I believe God is delighted when we call His name whether it’s the first or the hundredth time!

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” -Luke 18:15-17

Jesus welcomed these little children with open arms. I imagine that they ran to Him like your kids run to you after being gone all day. That they desired His full attention and affection-and He was willing to give it to them.

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. -Eph. 2:5-7

Here is a beautiful passage. We were dead; then, through Christ, we are made alive. When we received the grace He offered, we were raised from our life of death (sin) and seated in the ‘heavenly places’ in Jesus. This is in the past tense-‘seated’-which means it has ALREADY taken place. So, where ever we are, if we are in Christ, we are in the throne room of God. We have that intimate access to the King of the world. The access a prince or princess would have to their father’s throne room. This is what our relationship with our kids is like too. They have access to our love, provision, and presence, just like we have access to God’s love, God’s provision, and God’s presence!

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Praise God for His redeeming presence and love! Relish in His lavish love today!Praying for you and your kids today!

Elise

My Tribe

When I was in high school, I had a few girls that I would hang out with on a regular basis, but over the years, we have naturally grown apart as our lives have taken us different places.

In college, I had a few friends, but never a group of girlfriends who I did everything with. I met my husband soon after transferring to my Alma Mater so most of my friends were OUR friends since we were together so much.

Fast forward to now…I am a mom of two little ones. My life revolves around cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, playing with my boys, and spending time with my husband when we can fit it into the day. But I still desperately need a community of women. Those ladies who I can go to on a rough day, who I can ask to pray for me, who I can laugh with, who I can cry with, who I can struggle with, and who I can celebrate with. Thankfully, through a community group at my church that started this year, I have found just that.

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My tribe is not perfect of course…we are still getting to know one another. But I love spending time with them. We constantly update each other on our daily joys, trials, and funny moments. We pray for each other. And we get out and have fun together-just us girls.

So this is a shout out to MY TRIBE! Ladies, thanks for being a group of friends who constantly supports and encourages one another!

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Me (far right) and my tribe of girls before going to eat at Cazbah in downtown Greenville.

Who is your tribe? If you don’t have one, get one! Try striking up a conversation at the library story time, or with another mom at your gym? Guys, maybe you need to talk to the guy sitting next to you at work or reach out to some of your wife’s friend’s husbands. Community is not a girly thing, it is a Godly thing.

It’s right there in the FIRST chapter of Genesis:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
Genesis 1:26a

I am not here to debate the intricacies of the Trinity, but I feel that it is clear that this is at the heart of who God is – relationship and community. Community has been a part of God since the beginning, and He made it part of us from the moment His breath moved through our lungs. Adam never knew a world without relationship and community. He walked with God. Then, God gave Adam a constant companion in Eve, so he wouldn’t be alone.

Relationship is at the heart of who we are.

So…if you aren’t in community, think about it. It can be hard and scary. But on the hard days, the exciting days, the sad days…you have a group of someones who have your back.

A Family Shaped By Grace

Have you ever spent a holiday with your family and wondered why it felt like such a chore? Do you find yourself walking on eggshells around certain family members because you aren’t sure how they might respond to you? Are there some people in your family that you avoid because being around them is too challenging?

If so, know that there is a better way, and it’s all about grace!

A Family Shaped by Grace is a new book coming out on June 6th that I have had the privilege of reading before it’s release. Gary Morland, the author, had a crumbling family. Finally, he got to the point where he wanted to do something different. His way wasn’t working. He started attending Bible study and met a man named Harold. This man would slowly, patiently love on Gary and teach him a better way to relate to and bless his family. This book is about the things he learned. They have helped him have a family shaped by grace instead of duty, anger, fear, or disappointment.

AFSG

What I love about this book is the practical ways Gary gives you to gently change how you view your family and how you relate to them. If you are at all invested in a family (which is everyone) or working with families in a professional way (teachers, pastors, counselors, social workers, etc.), this book is for you!

P.S.-Right now, the book is 40% off if you pre-order on Amazon or Barnes and Noble! Purchase your copy now if you want to get along with the people in your life who matter most!

Blind Steps of Faith

I struggle with wanting to know the will of God and the purpose driving the storms, struggles, and trials we go through. I have had great teaching regarding these issues, but sometimes my heart still doesn’t get it. The deep desires that reside there don’t understand why they aren’t being met, why they have been ignored, pushed aside. They feel abandoned, left to die a painful death. However, this is not true.

My desires are seen by a loving, faithful, ever-present God and Savior. I never have to fear that my God-given desires (i.e. to be in community with others, to be a mother, to have a happy, healthy marriage) are being ignored or pushed aside. God cares deeply, and I need to allow my heart to rest in that.

Now, this truth doesn’t answer all the questions I have in the middle of a storm. It’s difficult to go through hurt and pain, hurricanes of suffering and seemingly never-ending waits without answers or some small understanding of what is being accomplished. It is natural to look up to heaven and wonder, ask, plead for answers, but we can’t demand them. We were never promised answers. In fact, there are painful experiences and tumultuous storms for which the reasons will never be clear this side of heaven. We act as though we deserve an answer. WE deserve to know what God is up to, why He is putting us through this. But we can’t demand that kind of explanation from such a Huge, Other, Big, Powerful God. However, we are promised presence. And God’s presence always exudes love, grace, and truth.

My pastor at Community Bible Church is incredible. God has truly gifted him with a passion and ability to speak and teach. A month ago, he preached a sermon called ‘Love in the Storm.’ I encourage you to listen to it. It was from Mark 4:35-41.

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat.(Z) There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”(AA)

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

As I have been listening to this message again today, I ran into a quote that I know I need to keep hearing.

“Look, you got a choice. You’re going to go through the storm. Yes? You’ve got a choice. You can row and fight and bail and scream and yell and holler and accuse, often to no avail. Or you can just say, ‘You know what, this isn’t about the storm, it’s about Jesus.’ It’s about crawling up next to Him and saying, ‘I trust You.’ “

Storms are that simple. They are about you and Jesus. Will we trust Him? Even when it hurts? When it doesn’t make sense? When it is scary?

I want to…so badly. He is trust-worthy!

So as I walk through these months and continue to try to get pregnant, I will trust Jesus. Do I understand? No. But I do trust Him.

 

God didn't bring you...

Hold tight to the truth that God cares deeply about you, even in the midst of a storm!

Love,

Elise

 

Through a Child’s Eyes

On Wednesday, I took on the third word in Philippians 4:8 that Paul encourages us to think about, just.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

I decided to think about how all people are created in God’s likeness and how no one I come into contact with on a regular basis is ‘out to get me.’ I struggle with feeling things a bit too much and tend to take statements and complaints personally, so I decided that I would reverse my thinking for a day (to hopefully begin a full reverse to my usual line of thinking).

Today, it is time to mediate on something pure. The first thing I thought about regarding this word was the innocence you see in children. For the most part, the way they view the world is pure, unjaded, and uninfluenced. That’s why they say the craziest things, sometimes embarrass their parents because they blurt out who knows what, and why Jesus encourages us to have a faith like that.

I remember my days as a child playing outside for long hours, imagining hidden worlds and alter egos. I remember the pure joy of riding a bike with no hands, dancing with abandon, and giggling with friends.  As I’ve grown up, I’ve lost a little bit of that, but I don’t want to.

15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. (Luke 18:15-17)

So, today I will be thinking about the pure joy of baby laughter, little girl twirling, and the excitement of seeing things for the first time.

picture found at sherrisreadingjubilee.blogspot.com

 sherrisreadingjubilee.blogspot.com

Much Love,

Elise