I’m a planner. Literally. My undergraduate degree was in Recreation, Parks & Tourism with a concentration in Event Planning. I enjoy planning things. In fact, one of my “hobbies” is planning vacations that I’ll (probably) never go on.
The older I get, the more I bump up against this problem with planning: oftentimes, my plans don’t coincide with God’s plan. And it’s frustrating, and, at times, painful.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
When God Had Different Plans for Me
At the beginning of 2013, I started to have debilitating pain in my joints. At the time, I was a riding instructor at a local horse farm. I would get home from teaching lessons at the end of the day and literally crawl up the stairs to our apartment because I was in so much pain. I started to see an orthopedic doctor and then a sports medicine doctor, and when neither helped, I went to a rheumatologist, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, a physical therapist… the list goes on. I got a knee brace, shoe insoles, a plethora of medications and side effects, and a myriad of injections in my joints. Instead of getting better, the pain only got worse.
With every new doctor, I would hope that this would be THE ONE. This would be the doctor who would know what was wrong with me. This would be the therapy to finally “fix” me. This medication would make it all go away. But it didn’t. I found the truth in this verse: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).
Three years into my journey with pain, I was consistently walking with a cane and taking several medications daily just to function. The pain kept me up at night—I spent a lot of nights crying on the bathroom floor, praying to God, feeling so alone and defeated. I was unable to work, barely able to go to church. There were days when I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without help from my husband. This obviously wasn’t part of my plans.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
The Greek term for faithfulness used in our key verse is “pistis” which conveys faith, belief, trust and confidence. This is the same word used when Jesus says things like, “Your faith (pistis) has healed you,” (Mark 5:34, 10:52) and in Mark 4:40, “Why are so afraid? Do you still have no faith (pistis)?” It is the same term used all throughout the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11.
With everything going on in our world right now, it’s hard to be faithful. It’s easy to doubt what God is doing with this pandemic or in the various hardships he’s sending our way. Despite these storms, it is possible to have full faith in God – and not just blind, oblivious belief.
The next fruit of the Spirit in our series is peace. This is a pretty crazy time to discuss peace. At the time that I write this, the Coronavirus is closing in on half a million confirmed cases. Countries are closing their borders and several U.S. Cities and states have issued stay-at-home orders. We can make jokes about Quarantinis all day, but this is a terrifying situation.
So, how should we, as Christians, respond?
In my opinion: with preparation, prayer, and peace. I’ve already written about how we should prepare for disaster, so I won’t go in to it here.
One of the most important things we can be doing right now is praying. If you head to my Instagram, I’m doing a series of daily prayers for this pandemic. Please join me as I pray for our world in crisis.
Lastly, we should be at peace. We’ll get into the how later, but let’s talk about what peace is first.
This week, I’m starting a series on the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. I chose this verse because as moms, I’m pretty sure we all want to be everything in that scripture. Loving, joyful, patient, kind. But it’s hard. We get frustrated, impatient, lose our tempers. We get overwhelmed with the daily burdens of life.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
I wanted to do a deeper dive on this verse to help me (and hopefully those of you reading this) to connect with and understand how we can grow in these areas.
For this week’s meditation, we’ll be looking at the parable of the wise and faithful manager. Because basically, “mama” means manager, right?!
Recently, after leaving a restaurant and strapping my son into his car seat, I handed him three out of the six toy monster trucks he’d brought with him from home. About a mile down the road, he says, “Mama, where’s my other monster trucks?”
“Oh Finn, I left them in the door. I forgot to give them to you.”
He considered my response and finally said, “It’s okay, but next time, will you obey?”
Before having children, I was often tempted to put my husband “above” God – to treasure my relationship with Tyler more than I treasured God, to get all of my hope and security in Tyler instead of God, to save up all of my thoughts, desires and hardships to work through with Tyler instead of turning to God first. Now that I have children, I’m still tempted to put Tyler above God – but it’s even harder these days to put my children before God. If I’m honest, prioritizing my children, and even idolizing them, comes as second-nature. They dominate my thoughts, enslave my emotions, and consume my desires. But this verse calls me to love God first.
So you want to pray more powerfully for your children, but you’re not even sure where to start. This is one of my favorite methods of prayer that my mom taught me when I was a kid. And now I use it all of the time, even without thinking about it! In this post, I’m going to show you how I pray A.C.T.S. for my kids.
A.C.T.S. stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. I’m going to go through what that means in a minute, but first let’s talk about what it’s like to pray as a mom.
Motherhood changes the way we pray.
I remember when I was a college student and could go for long prayer walks. I could pray about every single little thing I could possibly think of…That seems so far away right now! Some days I’m lucky if I can string together two minutes of prayer.
Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
But these days what I’m emphasizing in my own life is the call to pray constantly – while I’m mothering, cooking, cleaning, resting, falling asleep, and all the little in-between moments. I pray for my husband, my children, my family members, the members of my small group, my church leadership, this blog. I praise God and thank Him. I tell him what I’m worried about, what I’m excited about, what I’m feeling in the moment. I pray for His will to be done in my life.