Category Archives: Everyday Life

Christmas Confessions Day 4: “Worried and bothered about so many things”

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I’m just gonna throw this out there and make an assumption that I’m not the only one who is “worried and bothered about so many things” today (Luke 10:41b).

There’s the basic workload – work, cook, wash clothes, parent…

Then there’s another layer of responsibilities – Christmas shopping, mailing packages, deep-cleaning the house, baking…

And on top of that is extra socializing – Christmas programs, get-togethers, parties…

By the end of the day yesterday, I’d nearly forgotten about God.

All that mattered was a bunch of clutter and a persistent odor in the bedroom carpet. As I rug-doctored, heaving furniture to and fro, my thoughts centered around how very much work children are, how small our house feels with seven people in it, and how appalling all our “stuff” is.

Things like “I’m never going to have time to write again!,” “Who has been training these kids anyway?,” “I can understand the benefits of having only one child,” and “If our house burned down I wouldn’t have to sort through all this mess” danced through my head. You know, visions of sugarplums…

When an obnoxious crate-style metal shelving unit broke for the umpteenth time, the lottery ticket line I inadvertantly stood in to rent the rug doctor came to mind… Hmmm, if I won the lottery, I could buy some real shelves. That’s every lotto player’s dream, right?

And then, after I ditched the crates, dumped the dirty rug-doctor water, cleaned the toilet, started another load of laundry, tidied the kitchen, and tiptoed past my sleeping husband to get ready for bed, I saw a facebook message from a sweet lady asking if I could have lunch with her tomorrow.

I want to, but… I… have… so… much… to… DO!

And then the God that I’d nearly forgotten showed me who I was.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary…” (Luke 10:41-42)

His Word…

Time at His feet…

Investments in relationships, in matters of the soul…

My confession today is that all my fleshly heart cares about is my own agenda:

  • I want my house clean.
  • I want my own time.
  • I don’t want my kids to pester me.
  • I want to finish my to do list!

My sinful nature doesn’t want to sacrifice.

My worried and bothered heart doesn’t have time to sit and listen to Jesus!

As if my agenda is more important than His.

As if He doesn’t know what it’s like to sacrifice and obey the will of the Father.

I need Him to open my eyes, my ears, my heart.

I need Him to “make me lie down in green pastures,”  to sit at His feet, to do the one thing that is necessary.

Lord Jesus, thank you for stepping down from Heaven and pursuing our souls. Help us today as our schedules and responsibilities overwhelm us; help us yield to Your Holy Spirit instead of our selfish, sinful hearts. Enable us to see what really matters and what doesn’t. Please give us grace to do the mundane for your glory.

*I know many of us are in the same boat today! And some of you are facing the kind of battles that make cluttered houses and smelly carpets look like a walk in the park. How can I pray for you today?

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Christmas Confessions Day 3: [Mis]Judging my Husband

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My third confession is that I’ve judged my husband.

(What? Judge not that you be not judged?)

I’m married to a hard worker, a wise parent, a dedicated Christ-follower, and a caring, sensitive husband.

And for the record, I’ve read tons of marriage books, I’ve learned about the pivotal issues of love and respect, and I’ve enjoyed a wonderful marriage for fourteen-and-one-half years.

Yet, in my heart of hearts… how much I’ve judged.

When he’s working too hard — He’s becoming a workaholic.

When he relaxes on the couch — Doesn’t he care about all the work I have left?

When I need parenting help — I wish he would handle this.

When he steps in to handle something — That is NOT the right approach for this situation.

When there’s not time for family devotions — He just doesn’t see the spiritual needs in our family like I do.

When he creates a routine for family devotions — Why does he have to be so rigid?

Oh yes, from my lofty vantage point, I have [mis]judged him to be selfish, uncaring, and decidedly less spiritual.

Well, God dropped a book in my lap last week that I now highly recommend — What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You by David Murrow.

And… Wow.

I’ve gained a profound understanding of the why’s… the working, the parenting, and the spiritual leadership, just to name a few.

I look back (at um, a few days ago) and am horrified that my goal has so often been to conform my husband to my “godly,” feminine way of life.

The God-given instincts to protect and provide, the differences in the male brain, the changes in society, especially since the Industrial Revolution, and the way we Western Christians “do church” provide significant answers to the great mysteries (and in the female mind, the CRIMES) of men.

I am truly grateful for fresh insight into the various aspects of my husband (and sons), but even if I hadn’t been provided with the results of such incredible study, I would have been accountable for my judgmental heart. Some other profound words have been around for quite a while…

 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Maybe you can relate. Will you pray with me?

Jesus, I’m sorry for my own self-righteousness. I’m sorry I’ve so often assumed the worst about the incredible husband you gave me. Thank you for creating him in your image — for creating him to be so different than me. Help me to honor and respect him, to understand him better, and to love him – not puffing myself up, not assuming evil, but bearing all things, believing all things, and hoping all things. I admit again how much I need YOU to change my heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen

*Don’t forget to check out David Murrow’s book. Maybe you can add it to your Christmas list! I promise you will learn something you’ve never learned before!

But before you do, let me know… what are you learning these days about loving, respecting and believing the best about your husband?

Christmas Confessions Day 2 — Thankful or Discontent?

Day2ThankfulorDiscontent

I celebrated Thanksgiving a few short days ago.

How thankful should I be? Infinitely.
How thankful am I? Pathetically.

My confession today is my discontent.

I thank God for all the good with my lips, but my greedy heart clamors for better

  • A better couch
  • A prettier face
  • A heftier bank account
  • A cleaner house
  • A more successful blog

On and on it goes.

Anyone on the face of the earth could find reason to envy me… that’s how blessed I am. But am I truly grateful?

Only sometimes.

In my ebook Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear, I wrote about giving thanks even in the midst of darkness:

More than a distracting mantra, thanks-giving is a sacrifice. We lay down
our rights for “more.” Yes, we realize our neediness, and we remember
that God knows too; yet, in the middle of suffering we take our eyes off
ourselves and acknowledge all we already possess. “I will offer to You the
sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the Name of the Lord” (Psalm
116:17 NKJV).

Furthermore, we are told that giving thanks “in all circumstances” is
indeed “God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).
Gratitude is an act of faith; we are telling God we remember what He has
done, we see what He is doing, and we trust Him with our future.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV), and
without gratitude, it will be impossible for us to recognize God’s hand at
work.

Our enemy knows the transformative power of gratitude. Think about how hard he works (or doesn’t have to work) to stir the discontent in our hearts — especially at this time of year.

I used to be surprised by the inclusion of “ungrateful” in this list of sins, but as I look at the world around me (and the deceitful heart inside of me) it makes more and more sense:

For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power… (2 Timothy 3:2-3)

My discontent, my lack of gratitude denies the power of God in my life.

Lord Jesus, I confess to you my ingratitude. Please forgive me of this lust for more, for better. Turn my eyes away from “greener pastures” that are only the enemy’s mirage, and turn my focus instead to you and the blessings I often ignore. 

For my friend who is struggling because her burden is so great today, please show her your relentless love — the love the changes everything and merits our eternal gratitude.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*How are you battling discontent and keeping a thankful heart today?

Christmas Confessions Day 1: Not perfect

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Every time I share with you, my blog friend, I long to be perfect.

I want to express myself clearly, share just the right amount of struggle, and come to an encouraging conclusion.

What happens when I’m not thinking clearly? Experiencing too much struggle? Not yet at my encouraging conclusion?

Silence.

But I shouldn’t be writing to impress.
We’re friends.
We’re pilgrims traveling this rough road together.
You don’t need me to have all the answers. In fact, I may need the answers from you.

We’ll never stop needing to point each other to the One, Only Answer.
Jesus.

Lately, I’ve been realizing afresh just how imperfect I am.

My sinfulness trips me up, shuts me up, and leaves me wondering what could I possibly be qualified to say?

But though the enemy whispers that I’ll never be perfect enough, the Holy Spirit turns my gaze to a star… a manger… a cross.

Christmas is all about me not being perfect — me seeing, confessing, and forsaking my sin; me falling before my perfect, fully adequate, merciful Savior.

Through December, I’ll be writing short confessions.

Simple reflections that reveal my need for the Savior whose arrival we celebrate.
And prayers. A lifting up of myself and of you, my friend.

As a fellow pilgrim, I can’t offer you perfect prose or perfect answers.

But I can walk beside you, sharing the truth of my neediness and His sufficiency, sharing a moment before His throne together.

Heavenly Father, thank you that you welcome the needy, sinful, and broken with open arms. I praise you for the gift of your perfect, all-sufficient Son, who cleanses me from sin and your Holy Spirit who empowers me to walk in the light.

Please give me — and my friend — eyes to see our sin for what it is. Let us not be deceived into believing we’re fine without you. Break down our facades of perfection and give us courage to admit our desperate need for you.

Don’t let us celebrate your arrival, your sacrifice unchanged.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*Has your sin or a facade of perfection been holding you back from something? How can I pray for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

What every non-runner needs to learn about the race

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I live with a bunch of runners. (Note my careful choice of words.)

My husband coaches cross-country and track and can’t resist discipling our own 8-14 year-olds in the art of running in his free time. My eight year-old ran two 5ks in the past two days. They are all putting me to shame.

But though I don’t count myself among these dedicated athletes, I’m learning a couple valuable lessons from them.

First of all, serious runners don’t have an “off season.”

  • When one season is done, they condition for the next.
  • They eat wisely year-round.
  • They go to bed early each night so they’re ready for those pre-dawn workouts.

After all, to stop training is to lose ground.

Secondly, running requires self-discipline: a throwing off of hindrances and entanglements.

Real runners resist the temptations that are accepted as “normal” to everyone else:

  • soft drinks
  • excessive sugar
  • late nights
  • injury-inducing activities

Runners have a goal in mind and persevere to that end.

It’s easy to forget we’re in a spiritual race, isn’t it? Yet it’s SO easy to be hindered, to become entangled.

When others indulge in whatever makes them happy, we look at our well-worn running shoes and our narrow path and wonder what would be so wrong with a break.

Why not enjoy an off season?

Wouldn’t it feel great to sleep in? Put our feet up? Eat without restrictions?

How easily we veer off course when our eyes are fixed on the fun everyone else is having.

But how different the perspective when we are instead,

…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:2-3

There is lasting joy set before us too!

If we stay on course, persevere, cast aside the weights and entanglements, our sacrifices will pale in comparison to the reward.

I don’t want to be disqualified.

I don’t want to lose heart.

I want to say with Paul and so many of the witnesses who have gone before me:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

2 Timothy 4:7

Jesus, please strengthen our “feeble arms and weak knees” (Heb. 12:12). Help us fix our eyes on YOU!

*How’s your race going today? Any words of encouragement to add to your fellow runners?

WIN a book by Sally Clarkson! (Moms—or friends of moms—don’t miss this!)

It was back in those hot Haiti days when I had five little ones interrupting every thought…

My parenting techniques included exasperated sighs (which my special needs son imitated with delight), sarcasm, and lots of volume. I was not proud of myself.

(Of course those things never happen now. Oops, sarcasm.)

Then a friend recommended The Mission of Motherhood. I was a little weary of “how-to” parenting books. I already knew how to care for my babies and I knew the basics of biblical discipline. I hoped this book would be a little different.

I was not disappointed!

Sally Clarkson brought a breath of fresh air to motherhood. Her tender spirit, love for her children, and passion to lead them to Jesus stirred a longing in my wearied heart to do more than just survive. My perspective changed completely.

You WANT to win one of these!!

Here’s what you do to enter the drawing:

  1.  “Like” my Facebook page by clicking “Like” on the right, then tell me you did in a comment below OR
  2. Subscribe to my blog by clicking “Follow” on the right, then tell me you did in a comment below OR
  3. Subscribe to Sally Clarkson’s new site Itakejoy.com, then tell me you did in a comment below OR
  4. Leave an amazon review of Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear, then tell me you did in a comment below OR
  5. Subscribe to my newsletter (send an email to subscribetojenniferebenhack@gmail.com) OR
  6. Share this post on Facebook or Twitter and… yes, let me know you did in a comment below.

I will draw the names of two winners and announce them Thursday morning. So CHECK BACK to see if you won!

Okay, now check out these inspiring books below and don’t forget to visit Sally’s new site.

Mission of Motherhood

-Do you long for your home to be life-giving and peaceful?
-Is it your desire to pass on a legacy of righteousness to your children?
-Do you struggle to balance the duties of motherhood with a loving relationship with your children?
-Would you like creative ideas for keeping your child’s heart open to you and to the Lord?

No calling is greater, nobler, or more fulfilling than that motherhood. Every day, as we nurture our children, mothers influence eternal destiny as no one else can. Tragically, today’s culture minimizes the vital importance of a mother’s role. By catching a vision of God’s original design and allowing it to shape your life, you can rediscover the joy and fulfillment to be found in the strategic role to which God in all his wisdom has called you, for a purpose far greater than you can ever imagine.

Discover how understanding God’s purpose and design can empower you to be the mother you long to be.

You can purchase The Mission of Motherhood here or at Amazon.

MinistryOfMotherhood

Because Motherhood Isn’t Just a Job. It’s a Calling.

A mother’s day is packed with a multitude of tasks that require energy and time: preparing meals, washing clothes, straightening and cleaning the house, and caring for children. These jobs all are necessary and crucially important. But in the dailyness of providing for a child’ s physical, emotional, and social needs, vital opportunities for spiritual nurture and training can be overlooked.

This doesn’t have to be the case. You can focus your energy on what matters most. Learn how you can:

• Make Life’s Mundane and Nitty-Gritty Moments Work for You and Not Against You.

• Discover Ways to Make Character-Building a Natural Part of Live.

• Teach Your Child in the Same Way Jesus Taught the Disciples.

• Pass on Crucial Gifts that Will Serve Your Family for a Lifetime.

Using biblical wisdom and practical teachings, Sally Clarkson shows how you can make a lasting difference in your child’s life by following the pattern Christ set with his own disciples–a model that will inspire and equip you to intentionally embrace the rewarding, desperately needed, and immeasurably valuable Ministry of Motherhood.

You can find purchase The Ministry of Motherhood here or at Amazon.

Author Info

sallyclarkson

Sally Clarkson is the mother of four children, a popular conference speaker, and the author of numerous books and articles on Christian motherhood and parenting, including The Mission of Motherhood, The Ministry of Motherhood, and Desperate.  In 1994, she and Clay started Whole Heart Ministries to encourage and equip Christian parents to raise wholehearted Christian children. Since 1998, Sally has ministered to thousands of mothers through Mom Heart Conferences, and more recently through her blog, ITakeJoy.com (for Christian women).

It’s all loss compared to this

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The comparison game is so easy to play… whether we’re trying to feel better OR worse about ourselves.

We make a mental list of “their” church involvement, “their” schooling choices, “their” accomplishments, “their” parenting skills, “their” volunteer work, “their” talents and measure them against our own.

If our list glows in comparison, we relax a little. We must be doing something right.

Of course if “theirs” outshines ours, we feel we’d better step it up a bit.

Wanting to be used for God’s glory is great, but is our spirituality defined by what we do or by our list of credentials?

Join me at The Better Mom today where my list falls apart.

I count all things to be loss…

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