Asking the Right Questions

When You're in a Messy Place

We were 21, juniors in college, and engaged to be married in a year and a half.  The town in which we had fallen in love, and spent the last couple years growing together at college seemed the perfect place to buy a house for after our graduation and wedding.

We spent Saturday mornings driving around, sipping coffee, and writing down addresses so we could return to our dorm computers and check the properties.

We were captivated by a sweet little home built in 1942 with hardwood floors just waiting to be refinished and the original windows–it was full of character.  We bought the home before getting married and worked every Saturday–spackling, sanding, painting, gutting the bathroom (and then realizing we were much better at demolition than remodeling…Dad to the rescue), and dreaming.  My roommates and I lived there for a year while Mark and I planned our wedding and continued working on the house.

Our wedding was perfect and we came home to a dining room overflowing with gifts.  Within a few months, our home was already the setting for game nights, brunches, barbecues and cozy whirly-pop-popcorn movie nights.  It was also evident within a couple of months that both of our careers were taking us away from the home and creating long commutes (mine was an hour, one-way).  After some months of prayer and more Saturday mornings with coffee and addresses we decided we’d be moving about 30 minutes east.

Here’s the problem, though, if you only own your house for two years, there isn’t a whole lot of equity yet.  And, if you buy your house when prices are “rock bottom” and then the bottom literally falls out of the market (oh, hello there 2007) and you cannot even get what you paid for the house, you have what some might call a bit of a pickle. So, we became (somewhat unwilling) landlords. Being a landlord is not for the faint of heart (and neither is paying 1.5 mortgage payments every month).

We had late rent, no rent, leaks in the house, clogged toilets, a flooded basement….all while trying to maintain and pay for the home we were actually living in.

There were several questions we could have asked at that time:

Why did we buy this house when we were so young?

Why, oh, why did they put a flat roof on part of the house? (so, so, so many leaks)

Did  we make a mistake in buying this house?

Why won’t God just get us out of this mess?


None of those questions are helpful or productive, though, some better questions were:

What is God working to teach us right now?

What blessings is God trying to get to us? (God is always trying to get blessings to His children–if He holds something back it is for our protection).

In another post, I’ll share a few of the many things God taught us through that property (and how He’s still using it to teach us).  But, today, I want to encourage you, in the middle of whatever mess you may be in, to start asking some better questions.  What is God trying to teach you right now?  Remember, He isn’t a teacher who is merely focused on getting you on to the next grade level and out of His hair.

He is a teacher who cares so deeply for you that He will allow hurt in your life now, so you are equipped and prepared to handle the blessing He has for you later. 

Share your messes with me (on Facebook)!  Let’s figure out together what God is trying to teach you!








Softening a Tired Momma Heart

for the mommas running low on compassion

Out of the mouth comes the overflow of my heart–when my mouth doesn’t have compassionate words for my sweet little ones, I know my heart needs a fresh splash of His compassion & grace.

It’s ten minutes from bedtime– she’s in her sweet new nightgown, her hair fresh from the bathtub, and she’s crying (again) over her stubbed toe.  I am tired of body and mind (as most mommas are at the day’s end), and find my heart dry of compassion.

Have you been there, momma?  You love that child, you would give your life for her, but in this moment you cannot seem to muster up a look of care or compassion for that stubbed toe (missing blanket, ripped book page).  And to top it off, you feel like a terrible mom for feeling that way.  I mean, shouldn’t I have a never-ending, overflowing spring of compassion for my own children?

Yes.  Yes, I should.

But, that never-ending well doesn’t find its starting point in my own heart.  It is not out of my own ability to stir up mercy, grace, and compassion from the early morning to bedtime.  When I find the river running low, it tells me a simple truth:  I haven’t connected to my life source since this morning.  I spent time in the Word this morning, prayed for my  littles, planned ahead to show them kindness, but around lunch I started running on my own determination to be sweet and by bedtime, I was dry.

God doesn’t run out. Let’s pause and let that sink in.

You run out, your husband runs out, your best friend runs out, your pastor runs out.  God never runs out. “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” (Lamentations 3:22) 

When my compassions fail, His do not. And, when I ask, He will fill me again, and again, and again.

If your heart is feeling a bit chapped and your river of compassion dry, meet me at His feet and let’s be filled together. Today, I am praying for you and me–praying that we will steal moments to call out to our Father and be filled.

Share your thoughts on Facebook.


It’s Time to Make a Fruity Plan

Putting on kindness and goodness is intentional and requires planning—I plan ahead for healthy snacks and meals, family get-togethers, check-ups and birthday celebrations.  And yet, I am just learning to plan for kindness.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12, NLT) I have noticed, in this scripture, previously that we are called to clothe ourselves, which requires attention and intention. But, yesterday as I folded some laundry that’s been huddled in baskets for three days, I listened to a Joyce Meyer broadcast (Mark and the girls were off picking up more plants for the garden) on this verse. (If you haven’t heard Joyce Meyer, whew, you are missing anointed preaching. Jump in with the one I listened to on Saturday about Kindness and Goodness).

Joyce said the way you put something on spiritually is to think about it mentally.  It requires planning ahead.  She encouraged to plan ahead of time to immediately forgive someone after he’s offended you, to compliment each person with whom you interact, to give things away.

I LOVE to plan (just ask my hubby).  There is nothing like a good plan mapped out to make this first-born momma feel accomplished. Consider some of the ways I plan ahead, on Monday evenings I make a weekly meal plan and grocery list, at the beginning of the month I try to look over upcoming events and make sure I’m prepared with cards/gifts/special meals/etc., throughout the school year I spend hours planning how I will best teach my students at Northpoint Bible College, and this past year I spent additional hours planning how to most effectively teach my Audrey.  I have already begun a mental list of to-dos for next Saturday (that may or may not actually get done).

If you like a good plan—whether it’s tight and scheduled or more of a free-flowing outline—consider what might happen if you and I:

– Plan ahead to put on peace when our oldest whines (pet peeve alert!!) and respond with a sweet and firm tone.
– Plan ahead to show mercy when the (low-pain-tolerant) three-year-old comes running with another new (and of course very serious) injury.
– Plan ahead to wear kindness when my husband calls and says he will be home much later than expected.
– Plan ahead ways to be kind to my littles during the day.  For me it is stopping my tasks to watch the dress-up shows, arranging their lunches in silly ways on their plates, or reading an extra book at bedtime.

This morning, after my Bible reading, I am going to spend some time planning ways to display the fruit of the spirit to my family and rely on the Holy Spirit to empower me to follow through with the plan.  What about you?  What’s your plan? Share on Facebook.

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