September 23, 2014

Message & Giveaway from My Friend Amanda: God Is at Work in Unanswered Prayer

Today I’m excited to introduce another one of my InScribed sisters, Amanda Hope Haley, author of Barren Among the Fruitful: Navigating Infertility with Hope, Wisdom, and Patience.

Amanda_Headshot_1 

Her book is one that has touched my heart deeply as a mother. You see, pregnancy came easy for me. Each time we tried, a baby was born. But not so much for my friend. And for years, she tried everything possible, including seven years of hoping and begging God, to have a baby.

And when no baby came, God eventually allowed Amanda to see her circumstances through a different lens. Amanda “Hope” Haley writes in her book, “I learned that God gives us only one hope: reconciliation with Him through the work of Jesus. Jesus is my only hope.

Wow! Once Amanda surrendered her greatest desire to the Lord. He gave her true Hope. I want that kind of hope, don’t you? Biblical Hope. God’s Hope. Below is a window into the heart of my friend, Amanda. Take a peek and get to know how God’s hope has transformed Amanda’s heart and given her a new perspective on her dream of motherhood.

At the end, Amanda asks a question. Leave a comment for a chance to win one of five copies of Barren Among the Fruitful we are giving away today and be entered in our bigger giveaway to celebrate the start of my Living So That on-line study which begins October 22nd (giving away 2 sets of our Inscribed books and 2 InScribed Necklaces). For details on how to join us for the study, click here.

Barrencover_3D_cropped

Your Financial Freedom Is an Asset to God

My husband David and I have enjoyed a lot of freedom lately. We’re constantly traveling for work, we don’t have a ton of responsibilities, and we aren’t weighed down by debt. But we aren’t taking any of this for granted.

To be blunt: I have a loved one reporting to prison on Thursday to serve time for a crime that he not only didn’t commit but that didn’t even occur.

We’ve been praying and enduring with this family since he was arraigned 7 years ago. We’ve watched as his health has declined, his relationships have strained, and his bank account has drained. It’s a journey that would make anyone look at her own problems and say, “I’ve got it pretty easy.”

All of that began as David and I were in the middle of fertility treatments. Our bank account was draining, too, but in our case it was a choice. Whereas our friend was paying exorbitant fees to lawyers in his attempt simply to stay with his wife and family, we were paying exorbitant bills to doctors in our attempt to grow our family.

In both cases, the husband and wife had long-standing habits of fiscal responsibility. Neither couple had debts outside of our small mortgages. We all made a point of “living within our means,” and that strong foundation made it possible for us to more easily weather our storms. He could hire a reputable lawyer; we could continue assisted reproductive therapies.

Did our significant financial investments give us all what we wanted? No. Our friend must leave his family, and we will never have children of our own. But did those investments still have value? Yes. He is serving a fraction of the time initially proposed, and we’ve realized God can use us and our money in ways other than parenting.

If David and I had gotten our wish 7 years ago, then it is likely that almost everything we have would be tied up in our nuclear family and every choice we make would be influenced by our children—as it should be. We probably wouldn’t be so sensitive to our friend’s situation, in that case. But we can look back now and see that God has a different plan for our lives. Apparently He wants us to be unfettered so we will have assets (be they monetary or temporal) He can use to bless others and accomplish His will.

Amanda.BarrenMeme

The apostle Paul says it is preferable not to marry because family relationships divide our “loyalties” and keep us from wholly dedicating our lives to God:

My primary desire is for you to be free from the worries that plague humanity. A single man can focus on the things of the Lord and how to please the Lord, but a married man has to worry about the details of the here and now and how to please his wife. A married man will always have divided loyalties. The same idea is true for a young unmarried woman. She concerns herself only with the work of the Lord and how to dedicate herself entirely, body and spirit, to her Lord. On the other hand, a married woman has vast responsibilities for her family and a desire to please her husband. I am not trying to give you more rules and regulations. I only want to give you advice that is fitting and helpful. I want to help you live lives of faithful devotion to the Lord without any distraction (1 Cor. 7:32–35, The Voice).

Paul was speaking from his own experiences, suggesting that the fewer ties we have on earth, the closer we can follow God and the more we can do for His kingdom. He calls some of His children to be spouses, but not others. Some to be parents, but not others.

Jesus tells us that God’s most important command to “‘love the Eternal, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second great commandment is this: ‘Love others in the same way you love yourself’” (Mark 12:30-31, The Voice). That isn’t contingent upon our lives looking the way we want them to. We don’t serve Him only if we’re wealthy or have a big family or are free. Regardless of our circumstances, God has a way to use all of us right now to accomplish His one will of reconciling humanity to Himself.

How has God used you or your pocketbook to bless others in ways you couldn’t have predicted? Leave your comment today for a chance to enter both giveaways!!

Thank you, Amanda, for stopping by and sharing from your heart today. I’m excited for your book to come out and for the hope and equipping it will bring to many marriages and families!

Blessings,

August 18, 2014

Sending a Baby to College?: From My Heart to Yours:

I share from a tender heart this morning. I have many friends who are sending their sweet babies off to college this month. A few asked me to re-post my post from 2011 when I took my sweet girl off to college for the first time. So below, I am re-posting that post. But BEFORE you read it, I want to encourage you  with a few words from my heart this summer as we sent Lauren off for her senior year at UGA. 

Laurenspeaking

Lauren speaking at her high school graduation June 2011

FamilyinNYC.Dinn

Our July 2014  visit with Lauren while she interned for Major League Baseball in New York City!

We not only survived but thrived!!

These three years have gone by so fast. But may I tell you, Lauren and I have grown closer than I could have ever imagined! In her words (that make this mama’s heart sing), we have become more like girlfriends!! We truly ENJOY each other. We have taken some of the most amazing trips together. So the “goodbye” that initially shredded my heart into a million pieces has now blessed my heart more than I could have ever asked or imagined. And just a few weeks ago, she left me this message on Facebook.

“Fifteen Best Things about Being Close with Your Mom”

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/a29039/best-things-about-being-close-with-your-mom/ via @Cosmopolitan (cut and paste)

So as you read the post below, keep my words above and my closing words tucked deep in your heart. The ache will lessen. The tears will subside. Joy will return. I promise! And always remember in the wait…His mercies are new every morning!!

My heart’s cry from August 2011

No one ever prepares you for the hurt that accompanies sending your baby off to college. Moms share their experiences. They give advice. They pray. They send Scripture. But when the moment arrives…nothing prepares you.

As we stood in the darkness of the parking lot outside Lauren’s dorm, I felt as if I could not breathe. Waves of grief overcame me. She hugged her Daddy. Next she hugged her brother. I stood, waiting for my turn, tears streaming down my cheeks. Finally she came to me. I held her for what seemed forever as we both wept…no words just tears. Finally, we spoke our last goodbyes. I watched her walk up the stairs to her new home. Everything in me wanted to run after her. I wanted to turn back time and take her home…just one more year with me. But I knew that was not possible.

It was time…time for her to journey into the next phase of God’s plan for her life…a plan I know is perfect…a plan I know is one planned by God since before time began…a plan to prosper and not to harm her…a plan to give her Hope and a future.

But knowing those truths does not make saying goodbye hurt any less. As we drove home, the ache in my heart grew.

Walking into the house brought waves of tears. It hurts so much. How do I walk this walk? How do I live each day knowing her bright, smiling face won’t be walking through the door every afternoon. How do I serve dinner every night with one less place setting? How do I go to Target knowing she isn’t with me to stop at Chick-fil-A to get our sweet tea? How do I watch “Bewitched” without her at 4:30 every afternoon? She is everywhere!!!

How will I walk this walk? The only way I know how…one step at a time…with my Lord guiding each and every step and with you, my sweet friends, whose prayers and words of encouragement have held me up. It is such a lonely feeling, yet you have helped me know I am not alone.

My friend Marlo Huffington wrote these beautiful words:

Let the sweet waves of loss wash over you for they will eventually give way to joy!

So, I will wait patiently for the Joy that always comes in the morning.

Until then, I rejoice for Lauren. Her first two days were so hard. But now she is enjoying Rush and making new friends. Nights are still a bit lonely as she misses “home.” But I told her soon UGA would be her new “home,” her “home away from home,” and it would feel good to be there.

And I was right…even though in that moment I didn’t want to be. All I wanted to do was whisk her back home. But Athens, GA has become Lauren’s home away from home with girlfriends who love her; a football team she’s rabid about (Go DAWGS),  a Christian community that has challenged and developed her faith, and an education that already has opened amazing doors for her. And, most importantly, it’s where God has grown her into an independent, capable and strong young woman! All things I know would never have happened had she remained here with us.

If you are one of those moms today (or have a friend who is), please leave a comment and share your (or her) name and your (or her) child’s name. We are not alone. Thousands and thousands of mamas all over the world know the ache in our hearts. I promise to pray for each woman and child by name. And let’s band together and pray for each other…that the God of all comfort will ENABLE us to entrust Him with our babies and FILL our hearts full of His peace, love and grace today!!

Blessings,

August 10, 2014

Should I Say Yes or No? How Do I Choose My “Best Yes?”

Hey girlfriends! I’m so excited to be part of Lysa TerKeurst’s “The Best Yes” Blog Tour.  Today, I get to share a bit of how her new book, “The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands,” has touched my life. Read through to the end  to learn how to join in promoting Lysa’s book AND LEAVE A COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF “THE BEST YES”!

***Winner of the “liquid love” giveaway announced at the end of this post****

BoWendy.BestYesT

Bo (my sweet son) and I on a “Best Yes” day!!!

Let’s start with a few questions that I bet you can identify with.

Does your life feel like an urgent rush from one demand to another?

Do you live a reactive rather than a proactive life?

Do you find yourself stuck between two decisions, paralyzed by the thought of choosing one over the other?

This last one is where I found myself two weeks ago. Lysa’s message allowed me to choose MY “best yes” during one of the most trying times in my life as a mom. I was serving at our Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference. Each day filled with responsibilities…things that my team assigned me to do.

Twenty-four hours into the Conference, I received a phone call from my daughter, who was interning in New York City, that she was sick, breaking out in some kind of allergic reaction. A bit distracted, I advised she head to the closest urgent care.

Despite treatment, her symptoms worsened throughout the day. I encouraged her to go back to urgent care the next morning and ask for more medicine. I continued with my She Speaks duties, but now she had me a bit worried.  By bedtime, she felt like she was struggling to breathe.  She clearly was not responding to the meds they gave her, and they couldn’t give her anymore. Both my husband and I were out of town. He in Kentucky. Me in Concord.  But he arranged for her to fly home immediately. Whatever caused this reaction had now invaded and overtaken her entire body.

I was terrified. What if they can’t control this? What if she can’t breathe? Who will care for her on the plane? What if we lose her?

The “best yes” seems obvious doesn’t it. Of course. Go be with your sick  child. That is the “best yes.” And, of course, that is where I wanted and needed to be. But what consumed my mind was how many people I would let down at the Conference. How many people would have to step up and take over my responsibilities. How many people who were already overloaded with their own duties would now have to pick up mine. So many emotions tangled up in my heart.

I knew where I needed and where my heart longed to be.  But lies infiltrated my heart. You are letting so many people down. Surely a close friend could step up in your place and call you if Lauren needs you. You could have worked something out.

As I hovered over her in  the Emergency Room, the condemning thoughts persisted. When her symptoms failed to improve, they admitted her to the hospital. I was terrified. This was my baby girl. In the dark of the night, as I lay by her side, my thoughts returned to all the women who were doing what I should have been doing. My heart raced. My stomach churned. But why? I knew I was where I needed to be so why didn’t I have peace?

Restlessness consumed me until the very women who stepped up to take over my responsibilities began texting me…powerful  prayers, beautiful Scriptures and WISE WORDS…words reminding me that I had responded with MY BEST YES by choosing to be with my daughter.

As they placed TRUTH in front of me,  God’s Wisdom drown out the lies!

In those crucial moments, God assured me that I had chosen MY BEST YES!

Friend, being equipped with God’s Wisdom and Truth is a GAMECHANGER in our decision-making. It makes us soldiers fully equipped for the decisions we will encounter in the midst of endless demands.

I had fallen victim to the evil one and allowed him, the one Jesus identified in the book of John as  a “liar” and the “father of lies,” to invade my thoughts and take them hostage, taunting me…lying to me…sending me to places I didn’t want to go. He didn’t letup until TRUTH came against him. It wasn’t until I stopped listening to the lies and began listening to and speaking back God’s TRUTH that he relented. And eventually, he slithered away with his big ole’ ugly tail tucked between his legs.

You see, sweet friend, TRUTH has a powerful way of interrupting the runaway thoughts and feelings that come in the midst of choosing our”best yes,” But if we don’t know TRUTH, we are powerless against the enemy’s tactics…his lying thoughts…his crafty deceptions.

I absolutely LOVE the three questions Lysa equips us with in Chapter 4 when we face difficult choices.

1. Have you been reading and praying through God’s Word lately?

2. Have you been applying God’s Word in your life lately?

3. Have you sought godly counsel and insights from wise people who know specifics about your situation?

BestYesCover

The key to choosing our “best yes” depends on having godly wisdom. Godly wisdom comes from one place and one place only…God’s Word! We must learn it, study it, believe it and store it up in our hearts!!

“The Best Yes” releases Tuesday, August 12th! Will you join me and our entire Proverbs 31 family in sharing this great news on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram? Click here to find great quotes, banners and pins to share. And click here to purchase a copy. Our hashtag is #TheBestYes. Below are some tweets to get you started.

Living with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule? @LysaTerKeurst is showing me the freedom found in #TheBestYes.

overwhelmedschedule-400x400

Decision-making. Ugh. Should I say yes or no? @LysaTerKeurst is showing me there’s another choice: #TheBestYes.

Will you join me in seeking God’s Wisdom so that together we can choose our “BEST YES”? Leave a comment today and share your favorite way to gather wisdom. I will choose one name to win a copy of Lysa TerKeurst’s new book “The Best Yes!”

 

*****The winner of the Liquid Love giveaway from my last post is  Eileen who posted on 7/25 at 9:03 am. Please send me an e-mail at deuteronomysix@aol.com with your full name and address so I can send you your books.*****

Blessings,