Where Help Comes From

Where Help Comes From

On my nightstand sits a sizable stack of wonderful books—some devotional and some on motherhood. I need all the help I can get, I regularly think, and thus, I become a collector of good books. I’m such a tasteful curator of wonderful resources, that you not only find shelves and coffee tables piled with such resources, you can see my collection in my computer’s bookmarks, desktop, and my pinterest page. There is no lack of thoughtful and helpful resources…to grow my thinking, change my mind…expand my view. I’m so very grateful for blogs, blog posts, books, magazines, and so many other publications that grow us in substantial ways.

And yet, how often I find these excellent books, devotionals, or articles read, quoted, and cherished in my life far beyond the Word of God that they ought to drive me to. The truth is that the keyboard and mouse on my computer rarely collect dust, but my Bible often does. We are so up to date on the latest thoughts of our favorite bloggers and authors, but we may sometimes lose touch with the most ancient of inspired words–God’s Word.

“I need help!” I say, seeking the comfort and counsel of wise and wonderful writers and influential people in my life. But then these familiar words come to mind…words spoken by David when he was in desperate need of help from Saul, his pursuer:

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 63:1-8

And what I find when I read these words aloud is that David, in the depth of his greatest need, found the greatest satisfaction in God, himself. God’s lovingkindness is indeed better than life.

Again here, from Psalm 121:1-2…

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

Oh to have this perspective and to live this reality when we find ourselves in need: When we don’t know how to make ends meet, when we struggle to parent our children, when we feel lonely, when we are unsure about the future, when we lose a friend to cancer, when our marriages need encouragement…when we when our walks with the Lord feels dry. His name is Helper, Counselor, Prince of Peace.

Do you need help, friend? Praise God for all the wonderful resources we’ve been given as helps and guides to grow stronger and dig deeper– let us keep reading and studying! But for all the books, blog posts, and helpful resources we have access to, may we access throne of God, and let it drive us to the arms of Christ. Sisters, we have daily needs, great and small…but we serve a God who delights in holding us, and holding us up.

Because of grace,

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www.gracelaced.com

The Mercy Of Coming Up Short

The Mercy Of Coming Up Short

I don’t mean to be a downer, but I have to say it: Real life is hard…

The kids are fighting again. The laundry pile is still out of control. You’re behind on responding to emails, returning phone calls, and turning in paperwork. Fixing a meal feels less than inspiring and there’s no money for eating out. A child is sick. A friend is suffering. An aging parent need help. The news is depressing. And, did I mention? The kids are fighting again.

Daily life is replete with difficulty and heartache.  And we, in our exasperation, go digging in our bags of tricks for what will work this time. We stick our hand in, hoping to pull out an easy fix for all our woes. But, in spite of how good we may feel right away, no amount of shopping, movie watching, internet-surfing, vacationing, organizing, exercising, talking it out, or personal bettering truly satisfies in the face of the persistent challenges in life. It’s not that any of those things don’t work, or are not helpful in practical ways. It’s simply that there is no lasting hope an any resource we may seek to find in our personal strategies for coping with struggles and obstacles. They don’t satisfy because they were never meant to.

The truth we often fight against is the truth that brings us hope:

We have no resources, within ourselves, to fix our lives…or our world. Our bags are empty. There’s mercy in coming up short.

Our emptiness and bankruptcy in our own resources is exactly where the cross of Christ finds us ready for real change...for real help.

It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you.
―Timothy Keller

Do you feel helpless in your ability to train your children today? Do you wonder how you will pay your bills? Do you feel ineffective and ill-equipped for the tasks you’ve been charged with? Dear friend, you are right where you need to be. Cry out to our good God, and find him faithful. Yes, you will find him faithful to provide the resources, time, energy, and tools you need…but faithful, ultimately, in providing the satisfaction in your SOUL that is needed when everything else goes awry.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Because of grace,

Ruth Simons, www.gracelaced.com

Idols Of A Mom’s Heart

Idols Of A Mom's Heart

The reasons, factors, conditions, and circumstances are endless. There is always an excuse for why I can abdicate my day to the waking up on the proverbial “wrong side of the bed”:

“It makes me crazy when I wake up to children screaming.”

“I just need everyone to be quiet.”

“I’m so annoyed by the kids’ whining.”

“Why isn’t anyone else doing their job (like I am).”

Mom’s frustrated, tired, cranky, and annoyed…again.

Idols of A Mom’s Heart

And while no one will argue that motherhood is very often exhausting and stretching in every way, the reality of the cranky mom syndrome is that our attitudes as moms have less to do with how our households are functioning, and more about the function of expectations in our homes. My daily life as a mom is replete with examples of how I often turn training into expectations, expectations into idols:

The desire to wake up to a quiet house is reasonable, but has it squelched my ability to respond to my children’s (sometimes foolish) needs with patience?

Is my need for peace and quiet so strong I’m willing to be unkind in the pursuing of it?

Does my children’s whining annoy and inconvenience me more than it drives me to pray and train?

Am I so prideful in the way I perceive my diligence that I am blind to teachable moments?

One of my favorite authors, Elyse Fitzpatrick, says this from her book, “Idols Of The Heart”:

“If you’re willing to sin to obtain your goal or if you sin when you don’t get what you want, then your desire has taken God’s place and you’re functioning as an idolater.”

The starting point for us, moms, in any difficult parenting situation…in any challenging schedule…in any wearisome trial, is to examine what idols our attitudes and actions  are pointing to. You see, my intolerance, impatience, frustration, and crabbiness, can often be traced back to an inordinate desire for ease, comfort, calm, and self-assurance. What makes us crabby often reveals where our idols dwell.  My idolatry of those things make me willing to act in whatever way seems fitting when something (or someone) stands in the way of that ease, comfort, calm, and self-assurance. Can you see it in your own life?

Replace Idolatry With The Worship Of Christ

Friends, our only hope for overcoming the idols in our lives is to replace them with He who is greater. There is no magic formula or instant solution to overcoming a bad attitude or a crabby outlook…but there is hope when we know where true hope may be found. When we worship Jesus, and focus our hearts on who he is and what he has accomplished on the Cross, we begin to worship Him, and not our comfort. We begin to see Him, and not our expectations, as being worthy of worship. We begin to trust in his work in us, rather than our work for him.

Because of Grace,

Ruth Chou Simons, gracelaced.com

This post is part of the month-long challenge From Grouchy…To Great.  Please check the series page for posts from the other awesome contributors on this topic.

From Grouchy…To Great

Holiday Shopping…More Blessing, Less Stressing.

Holiday Shopping...More Blessing, Less Stressing.

Holiday shopping advertisements are in full force. They are letting us know: Christmas is right around the corner and there is so much to get done. Does your blood pressure rise a bit when you see those commercials or walk into a glitter-filled store? Mine does. I love the season and the gift giving, but honestly– sometimes it just feels like too much. 

How can we avoid less holiday shopping stress? I’ve put together some ideas that work for our family, and hopefully, might bring a little bit of sanity and calm to yours…

1. Buy to bless, not to impress.

I’m a firm believer that what we believe determines how we proceed. In other words, what you think is the purpose behind celebrating this holiday season will influence how you shop. It’s so easy to get caught up in the game of expectations, obligation, and comparison, we will find it difficult to simply shop in a way that blesses another, rather than make much of ourselves. So, really, that is of greatest importance for me: getting my motivation for gift giving right practically wipes out the stress factor.

2. Determine a budget, and stick to it.

So much shopping stress is associated with the financial crunch that happens during the holidays. We find ourselves standing in front of too many choices, making hasty and emotional decisions that may or may not reflect our budget. Do yourself a favor, and determine ahead of time, how much you will spend, and feel good about sticking to it.

3. Consider choosing a theme for gift giving.

Although this may not be practical in all situations, it is definitely an idea worth considering for less stress and more thoughtfulness. Shopping thematically means that you determine, ahead of time, what kind of gift everyone on your list will receive this year, ie. books, gift certificates to favorite restaurants, music, or donations to ministries on the recipients’ names. Choosing one category for everyone you shop for allows you to hone in on what is significant, rather than run around town seeking various gifts for each person based on their wish lists.

4. Do your research, and shop online when possible.

Holiday shopping stress exists primarily when you must stand in long lines, hunt for the last one of a particular item you are looking for, or when you run around town doing price comparisons. Do your research ahead of time via the internet, ads, and a simple phone call to your local shops. Avoid the stress of trying to compare brands and ratings at purchase time by having all that done ahead of time. One way to be blessed and to be a blessing as well is to purchase handmade! There are so many great shops, (including this one being featured in the giveaway today!), and you know it is blessing another family when you purchase from local and online artists. Many small handmade shops online are shops benefiting adoptions, ministries, and Christian organizations. It is an added bonus when you know that your online purchase can go towards building up others in the Lord!

5. Make it fun by spending time with someone you love.

Go get dinner and make it a date. Or, invite a friend and grab peppermint lattes. If you must go out into the hubbub of holiday shopping, make it an opportunity to invest in relationship. If you have little ones, as I do, getting babysitting for the night definitely helps to avoid stress. Rather than allowing stressful situations with children and schedule conflicts to consume your holiday shopping experience, set yourself up for an enjoyable outing. De-stress your shopping experience by making it a memorable time of catching up with a friend or taking your spouse out for the evening. Remember that the the process of gifting is to be a blessing…start being a blessing even while shopping.

What are some ways you are choosing to make gifting a purposeful, and less stressful this season?

Because of Grace,

Ruth, www.gracelaced.com

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Words can’t express how thankful I am for each of you who have joined us on this journey for the past two years. I am overwhelmed by the thousands of women that come here every single day to share life and learn together!! While we may not be perfect (or even close to it), we desire to be better – for our families, for the world, and for our great God and Savior!  Thank you for joining me in this movement as we raise children who will impact the world, take care of our homes, love our husbands, and ultimately honor God with our lives!  ~Blessings, Ruth Schwenk

To celebrate our new design we will have a fun week of giveaways!!

We have some wonderful giveaways today. First one is from Ruth from http://www.gracelaced.com.  She is giving away some beautiful things from her shop!

1 fine art giclee print “Tulips For Morocco”: 7.5″x 7.5″, signed and numbered by Ruth Chou Simons. Archival quality print with certificate of authenticity. (value: $35)
"Tulips For Morocco": 7.5"x 7.5", signed and numbered by Ruth Chou Simons
1 set of “Rejoice Notecards”: original chalk art by Ruth Chou Simons printed on set of 8 (4″x5.5″) notecards with matching envelopes (value: $12)
"Rejoice Notecards": original chalk art by Ruth Chou Simons
1  ”Because Love Abides Here” (11″x14″) print: reproduction of original chalk art by Ruth Chou Simons, printed on thick velvet cover paper (value: $24)
"Because Love Abides Here" (11"x14") print
1 “Fading” (8″x10″) print: original water color by Ruth Chou Simons with popular quote from Anne of Green Gables, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” (value: $10)
original water color by Ruth Chou Simons
Total value: $81.00
The 2nd is a complete Child Training Bible Kit.  The Child Training Bible is tool that allows parents and children (and anyone that loves the Word of God) to go directly to the pages of Scripture for instruction in 20 key areas with a complete section dedicated to the gospel.  The Kit that we are giving away includes the CTB Chart Set, a Bible, tabs, and highlighters.  You can buy a kit by clicking here!Child Training Bible KitTo enter the giveaways join the rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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