Have you ever given that response as a reason for doing something? You either encounter people thinking that you are so in touch with God or thinking you are a little out there. Do you choose who gets that answer and who gets a response like, “It’s what I needed to do” or “It just felt right”? Maybe you’re not sure how the other person is going to respond. You don’t know their faith walk or their spiritual beliefs.
My family recently moved to a new city in a new state simply because God told us to move here. We didn’t hear an audible voice or have a vision, we just knew, deep within our spirits, that this is the place God wanted us to be. But even then, I felt unsure. We knew this city. We had friends here. Maybe we just wanted to move to this city. So I started praying for confirmation. And confirmation came. It came in a prophecy from one friend and a dream from another. It came in the form of answered prayer regarding employment. I mean, supernatural, very specific answered prayer. Even after moving, confirmation has continued to come in so many forms.
We hear countless stories of battles won by God’s hand in the Bible. Samson defeating the army, David defeating the giant, Moses defeating the Egyptians, so on and so forth. But there is one that sticks out to me the most.
In Exodus 17, the battle of the Israelites and the Amalekite army is briefly touched on. The story says that Moses sent Joshua and some other men to fight while he stood on top of the hill with the staff of God in his hands. Moses, his brother Aaron, and friend Hur went up the mountain and if Moses held his hands above his head, the Israelites were winning. If his hands dropped, the Amalekites took the lead. As any person’s body would, Moses’s body began growing tired and his arms would periodically drop. When they noticed him tiring, Aaron and Hur put a rock underneath him to sit on, and they held his arms up for him. Because of their actions, Joshua was able to defeat the Amalekites.
This story never rang truer in my life than it did during my recent battles. In 2015, I found myself amid a battle that would cost me time, money, friends, and ultimately forced me to make a faith decision I didn’t know I was prepared to make.
I walked up to my mom friends as my kids joined theirs for open play at a local gym. We are three stay-at-home moms who all live in the same suburb of a suburb of a major city in Tennessee. “I just felt so judged, you know?” I heard one friend lament as I approached. The night before, she had been at a function for her husband’s company, meeting the wives of some coworkers. She went on to tell me about sharing with them what she “does” and where she lives, and how their faces became less and less interested in her with each answer. Apparently, most of the women she spoke with worked outside of the home and lived in just the first suburb.
I turned 37 years old a few months ago. I am officially in my late 30’s which means I’m almost 40! I know some people might not see that as a positive statement, but I am really looking forward turning 40 years old. As I approach that age, I feel like I’m becoming more and more of who God created me to be. I can only imagine how fabulous, fierce and favored I’ll be at 40!
Every year, my mother asks me how it feels to be ___ years old. Most of the time, my answer is, “The same as yesterday.” As I reflected on that question this year, I definitely felt different as I turned thirty-seven. I feel wise. Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. I am finally able to crystallize (no pun intended) many of the lessons I’ve learned on my journey… so far. I see exactly how to apply them to my life in order to achieve my goals. I’d like to share some of them with you.
Once upon a time…
Don’t we just love that? The feeling of slipping into a rose-colored daydream where the sounds of commercial printers and the smells your coworker’s interesting lunch are replaced with the sweet song of a hummingbird and the gentle breeze of the fall wind? I loved that so much, I committed time to escape to that place daily for several years of my life. Each day, I’d go deeper into this fantasy land in my mind where I scripted fanciful interactions with people who don’t exist. I’d create circumstances that were only minorly an irritant and that could be resolved with a handsome prince falling in love with a beautiful commoner (i.e. me). It was the end of my mini-novel I crafted in my mind. It was the beginning of a series of stories I never knew needed to be explored. Isn’t that the thing though? All our princess stories end in a happily ever after that we have never seen, for the most part. And just like those stories, my daydreams ended the same way. I didn’t know that there could be more.
Sitting here in the quiet, reflecting on the remnants of a busy day, I am reminded of His presence and how little time I spend just sitting with Him. At one point in my life, I was a practiced yogi and regular meditator, but since I’ve turned back to Jesus and away from the false gods that the west has somehow seemed to more readily embrace, I have been unsure how to get quiet like that again. I say my prayers when I need the stillness before an impending conflict or the wisdom before a momentous decision, but I no longer have a regular practice of just sitting and listening for His answers. Social media, television, chores, to-do lists all jockey for my attention. I’m left feeling ragged, while saying to myself, “Once I get this done” or “After one more page scroll, I’ll be able to relax.” But isn’t that just when Jesus is at our side, beckoning us to just be still? I don’t know why it’s so different, now that I’m a reformed Christian, to incorporate those times into my daily routine. It’s like I feel like I have to perform, even though I know the Bible warns us against busy minds and that our best will never even be better than filthy rags.
I’ve said it a thousand times, “An hour a day, keeps the psychiatrist away.” As a mother of three children under the age of 10, a wife to an entrepreneur aka MY BOSS, the founder of a non-profit organization, and a traveling minister it can get pretty hectic. The same is true for you. Our lives are BUSY to the umpteenth power.
As mothers, or soon to be mothers, the demand on us to meet everyone’s needs is exponential. Don’t get me wrong, motherhood is beautiful….similar to dancing behind a cluster of butterflies in a field of daisies whilst sipping on pink lemonade, but the real truth is, moms are often last. Last to eat, last to shower, last to shop for herself, last to shave her legs, last to pluck her eyebrows….you get my drift.
Here are 7 easy steps to help bring you back into some state of normalcy and much needed mommy time outs:
Our church has been focusing lately on listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. It’s basically every Christian’s superpower – the voice of the Holy Spirit. There have been individuals who have come into great wealth by praying fervently and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit to guide their business transactions. Others have avoided potentially fatal situations by following the leading of the Holy Spirit. Chances are you don’t fall in either of those categories, but you still have that superpower.
Over the past few days, thoughts have been marinating in my mind about a certain cloud – a weight, a heaviness – that seems to call my shoulder home. I can distinctly recall thinking and cynically snickering to myself as I walked up my three flights of stairs with all of my groceries (because, #onetripordie), this is like every day I come home from work, carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I remember flipping from my left side to my ride side in bed over and over whispering to myself, “Why does it seem like the past few years, I’ve been struggling?” I even sat down and went through my life from January 2014 until now, detailing each struggle that I went through: depression, recovery, heaviness, loss of relationships, recovery, spiritual attacks, joblessness, hopelessness, weariness, more spiritual attacks, severing of relationships, and now back to this mist of heaviness. There were long periods of time where I would cry every couple of days, simply because it became too heavy to carry. And there were times when my only reprieve was behind the lids of my eyes. Continue reading “Purpose in Pain”
As my husband and I prepare to build our first home, I am reminded of the children’s song “Don’t Build Your House on the Sandy Land” by Public Domain, cautioning us that though we may build a pretty house, unless it’s built on the Rock (with Him as our firm foundation), we will have to rebuild. This reminder has set me to thinking about how often we build the things of life on a whim, especially in this age of immediate gratification and impulse. Oh how I have had to learn this lesson, time and time again!
We are born into a culture of practices and expectations. A fact that as a young child and teenager had never entered my mind. And then I married a southerner.
At nineteen, I married that southerner, an older man of twenty-three! I was excited, yet anxious, as we traveled to Mississippi for our first family holiday as a married couple. The setting was my husband’s grandmother’s very small farmhouse in rural, very rural, Mississippi.
Wanting to show my willingness to be a helper, I wisely watched to see what my role would be. Immediately the men took their seats at the large circular table in the kitchen. There was chatter by the men about hunting, planting, and the weather. There were bowls, pots, and pans all around the kitchen. There was not a shred of counter left uncovered – they even had homemade yeast rolls on top of the refrigerator.
As I waited, I observed the women fixing plates. I found this odd since the men had sat prior to preparing their plates. It quickly became apparent the women were fixing plates for their husbands! This had never been part of my cultural experience, but I followed their lead. The smells were so enticing and I was starving, so when the men were served, I assumed we would fix our plates.
I spent a large amount of my adult years limiting the amount of friendships I developed. At some point, (I’m not sure when) I decided that I could only have 2 or 3 close friends at a time. I would say “I prefer quality over quantity” or “There’s no way you can have real friendships with so many people.” I’m an only child, so I’m very comfortable being alone. I actually need alone time in order to be at my best. Because I’m comfortable being alone, I convinced myself I didn’t need to enlarge my friendship circle. I couldn’t see the benefits of having several close friendships. I thought I was satisfied with my quality few.
One of the ways I limited my number of friendships was avoiding being vulnerable. There were very few people who had the opportunity to see the real Chrystol. I kept my heart very well guarded. Due to my insecurities, I didn’t think most people would accept me if they really knew who I was. My lack of intimate friendships wasn’t due to the lack of trying on other people’s part. Women would try to befriend me. They would talk to me about any and everything, sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings and I’d share just enough to appease them. So I became a friendly sounding board to some, but rarely a friend.