No Match for a 10-step Plan

Following the Holy Spirit's Lead

Ten-step plans are great for reorganizing our closets. A three-day map to potty training can be a game-changer.  But, when it comes to ordering my day (and thereby ordering my children’s day) no amount of reading step-by-step instructions or planning ahead substitute for following the minute by minute direction of the Holy Spirit.

As I do most weekday mornings, I woke up today early enough to do my Bible study and get ready for the day before little feet were roaming the house.  Over the last ten days I have begun a new morning habit of reaching for my Jesus Calling book after my alarm buzzes, prior to checking the latest in my inbox and Facebook (I wrote about this in my post Before You Look at the Flamingos).

In case you’re wondering if it has made any difference…it has!  Changing the very first input of my day, has helped my attitude throughout the day, and prepared my heart for God to better speak to me during my Bible study time.

Back to this morning, the girls played sweetly together in Audrey’s room for twenty minutes while I nursed Beckett.  After choosing their clothes and bringing them into Beckett’s room, as is our routine, I could hear the busyness of yesterday in their voices.  Just a touch of raggedness tinged their words to each other, “Charlotte, you’re sitting on my socks.”

“Audrey, I was going to give that toy to Beckett.”  I have watched our mornings derail rather quickly after a few of those ragged, tired comments.  My heart whispered, Lord, help me.

“Girls, we are learning a new song in big church; it’s pretty easy, you want to learn it?”  The girls nodded as they pulled on socks and undies.  “Your praise will ever be on my lips. Ever be on my lips.  Your praise will ever be on my lips.  Ever be on my lips.”  As I dressed Beckett, I sang the chorus over and over.  The girls listened and chimed in here and there, and I felt the presence of the Lord in that little boy’s bedroom as we welcomed Him.

Those moments of praise changed the course of our day.  I am sure of it—praise is powerful (that’s why the enemy works so hard to steal our song with disruptions and distractions).

But, here’s the thing—my first-born-make a plan and stick to it—write out a morning schedule—personality wants to cling to that song and that time of worship this morning.  I am tempted to declare that every morning we will have a time of worship in Beckett’s room and we will sing that song.  Now, starting the morning with praise is never a bad idea.  The Bible tells us to enter His courts with thanksgiving and His gates with praise (Psalm 100:4).

However, the course of our morning was changed because the Holy Spirit prompted me and I obeyed.  There is no magic formula for a great day.  There is no 3-step process for taming a strong will.  There is just God on His throne, speaking to me (glory!) through His Holy Spirit.

And, there is a choice.  A choice to obey, or a choice to plow ahead with my way and my plans.

Join me today, follow His lead.  You may be surprised what your day looks like when you do.

Share with my a time you’ve followed His leading. 


Tearing Down the Fence (Laws)

Living Out The Greatest Commandment at Home

I am a first-born, teacher’s pet, rule-follower.  I can easily get caught it legalism because of my desire for black and white expectations and my felt need to meet them.

If I had lived in Jesus’ time, it is likely I would have gotten caught up in all the shenanigans of the Pharisees.  Did you know that in order to try to keep the Ten Commandments that God gave Moses, the Pharisees created 613 laws? They thought of these laws as a fence around the 10 commandments.  That is quite the fence.

So, since they had all their fence laws and were so good and keeping the law, in an effort to test Jesus, one day the Pharisees asked him which law was most important.  Do you remember his answer?

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

(Matthew 22:37-40, ESV, emphasis mine)

I deeply desire to raise children who are Jesus-followers and thereby obedient, not empty-hearted rule-followers.  You’ve seen this theme before on my blog as it is one with which I am constantly wrestling.

So, in these last weeks after several sermons relating to the greatest commandment from Jesus, I am asking myself, am I putting up fence laws for my children?  Rather than cutting to the heart of the issue—the greatest commandment, have I surrounded Jesus’ words with so many fences that it’s difficult for my children to see Jesus words’?


Don’t put things on each other’s heads.

Don’t grab something you think your sister is still playing with while she is in the bathroom.

Don’t drop your dirty Kleenexes all over the floor.

Don’t squeeze your brother so he can’t reach his toys.

Don’t hide your brother’s toys from him.

Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.

The greatest command is about my love for God.  If Jesus tells me the second command, to love my neighbors, is like the first command, I can assume “that loving people, in some ways is equivalent to loving God.” (J.P. Dorsey, “The Things That Matter to God in 15 Seconds or Less”).  My love for God can be observed in the way I love my neighbors.

My children can observe my love for God by how I love my neighbors (not by how many fences I put around the command to love God and my neighbors).  As they grow, my children’s love for God, also, will be observed in how they love their neighbors.

So today, I will have fewer don’ts in my repertoire, and rather I will share the words of the famous Jewish sage Hillel, “Don’t do unto others what you would not want done to you – that is the whole law; the rest is commentary.”

 If I want my littles to learn to love their neighbors as themselves outside of our home (with people who are radically different from them), we need to start at home.

Here’s what we will be doing this morning to jump into this journey or pursuing God’s greatest commandments and tossing the fences aside:

 1. Read the story of the Good Samaritan at breakfast and ask them some questions like

How would you want to be taken care of if you were hurt?

How do you think the Samaritan would have wanted to be treated if he was the one who was hurt?

Did he love his neighbor like he himself would want to be loved?

2. Review some common scenarios and prepare to show love

When you leave a toy because you’re dashing for the potty, what would you want your sister to do with that toy?

When you’re imagining together, what would you like your sister to say/do about your ideas?

3. Remind each other of the truth

After lunch, we will use this printable I created to remind each other what we learned this morning and what we have been practicing.  They will use the printable to illustrate a time during the day that they felt they were loved with God’s love.

Stay tuned for more on this theme–share your thoughts with me! How do we help our children not get caught in legalism, but captured by God’s love and sharing it?


It’s summertime here, and that means setting aside extra family time.  For that reason, you will see new posts from me only twice a week–I’ll return to three posts a week in the fall!  Be sure you’ve subscribed, so you don’t miss the new posts.

Hope When You’ve Flopped on Your Resolutions

Starting again (or for the first time) in June

What do you do when the great goals you set in January still aren’t typed out and in your wallet (like you said you were going to do) and you’ve dropped the ball on more than half of them? Wait until next January?

We sat together at a cute little coffee shop downtown on New Years day—a goals date.  We talked and I wrote our lists onto pieces of notebook paper with the title, 2015 Goals written at the top.

We each created a list of personal goals, a list of family goals.  We double checked that our goals were: specific, measurable, attainable, and had an end-date.  We spent time helping each other figure out the next step for each goal, so we had a launch plan.

I started strong on my goal to read a book every month. In January I read Platform: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World, in February I read What to Do When It’s Your Turn, in March I read half of The Power of a Praying Parent & half of The Power of Praying Wife, and figured that still kept me on track. I got halfway through a book in April and wasn’t really drawn to finish it; I can’t remember attempting to read anything more than the Bible & blogs in May.

So, it’s June–halfway through the year (I am about halfway through Restless by Jennie Allen, but only because I and I am not halfway to accomplishing my list.

I hate being behind.

I hate looking at my book on the nightstand knowing I was supposed to finish it last week.

I hate seeing my PiYo DVD with two months of dust on it.

This is precisely why I nearly wrote nothing on my piece of paper in the coffee shop on January 1st.

It is brave to set goals.  It is brave to point to a list and declare (even if only to yourself), with God’s help, I’m going to do this!

It’s brave to be resolute rather than complacent.

And, today, I’m deciding it’s brave to pick yourself back up in June rather than waiting for January, a fresh start, and a new list to begin again.  After all, the “[Lord’s mercies] are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:23a); they aren’t new every January 1st.

Momma, maybe you’re like me and you set some goals for the year, or for the month, or even for this week, and you feel terribly behind.  Or, maybe reading this post reminded you of never writing down the goals floating around in your heart and mind.  His mercies are new this morning.  Join me today as we choose to be bravely resolute.

Here are some steps that will help you and I this morning:

1. Evaluate the goals—with the Word and your heart open to the Holy Spirit be sure your goals are in line with His.

2. Review the victories—what steps have you take that have moved you closer to accomplishing that goal?  Little victories add up to big ones!

3. Plan to be purposeful—what is keeping you from accomplishing the goal(s) and how can you remove or accommodate that obstacle?

For example: being tired and finding it easier to flip on the TV after the kids are in bed, the house is put back together, and I’m prepped for the next day keeps me from grabbing my book.  So, on the remote I am taping a small note that reads, “I will read for at least 20 minutes before turning on the TV.”

Note: If you’re looking to set some goals—remember, June isn’t too late—Michael Hyatt has a great post detailing how to set goals that will stick.

What goals did you have for 2015? Or what goals would you like to start on today? Share with me.