Smudgy Memories

Faith

MandyWritten By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Motherhood is one of those privileges that offers a mixed bag of emotions. I was thinking about this recently as I recalled an experience I had a couple of years ago.

I watched the excitement on my two-year-old son’s face as he smeared his adorable little handprint…..all over my freshly Windex’d window. How quickly we lose sight of the many reasons we have to give thanks— when something doesn’t go as perfectly as we had envisioned!!

Nooooo!” I said as I watched my efforts fade away into a smudged mess. As quickly as I said it, he turned and walked toward me offering me a tender hug of apology. Afterward he returned to his fresh canvas and continued to make the window ‘his own’.

As I watched Spencer completely discount the work I put into making my window sparkle….I couldn’t help but sit back and thank God for his precious life and his incredibly adorable smile! As I observed from my spot on the couch, I realized just how proud he was of this ‘mess’ he was making! He was bursting with pride as he’d look from the window to me, summoning my approval! I walked over and sat beside him and played along filling his little heart to the brim. “Mommmmmy” he’d say, pointing to our works of art.

Sisters, when those fingerprints start to fade away, I don’t want to look back and regret wasting so much time trying to wash them away! I want to embrace each moment, each smudge, each smile and tuck them all away in my heart.

My daughter brought home a Christmas ornament from school a few years ago with this beautifully fitting poem tucked inside:

Sometimes you get discouraged
Because I am so small,
And always leave my fingerprints
On furniture and walls.
But everyday I am growing,
-I’ll be grown up someday,
And all these tiny handprints
Will simply fade away.
So here’s a little handprint
Just so you can recall,
Exactly how my fingers looked
When I was very small.

Yes, motherhood is a mixed bag of emotions! Some days that bag is overflowing 🙂 But, even on the hardest of days, I want to be found thanking and praising my God for every single moment.

Thank You, Jesus, for the the precious lives that You have aligned with mine. Thank You for every smile, every finger smudge, every tender hug. I pray that we will always give thanks; in all of our circumstances. I am overwhelmed by Your love and the many blessings You have given to me— thanks doesn’t even begin to cut it! I love you so much, Jesus, amen!

A God Perspective

Ministry Mom

Erin PetersWritten by: Erin Peters

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The clock read 11:37pm. The curtains were drawn and everyone was asleep, except my son. He sat in my arms, wrapped in his soft green blanket, smiling. Oh that smile. Cute, but not at 11:37pm.

So many thoughts ran through my head. Why he was still awake? Why is my husband sleeping? Doesn’t he know that I have to get up at 6am too? Yes, he has a “real” job, but my “job” gets the kids fed, clothed and keeps them from fighting all day. Plus I have a meeting in the morning. And we need lightbulbs from the store. I get to have coffee tomorrow. Haven’t had it four days. Ugh! Why is this child not sleeping.

Them bam! I felt it. That God tap. That reminder of what love is.

It’s patient with what comes throughout the day, or night.

It’s kind when my child interrupts me because he needs a snuggle.

It’s not envious that my husband gets to go to work and talk to adults all day long.

It doesn’t boast over how much I do for those I love.

It’s not proud at what I’ve accomplished.

It doesn’t push my own selfish “needs” before those that I am trusted to care for.

It doesn’t seek to elevate my position.

It doesn’t get angry when my plans get changed.

It doesn’t keep a record of how many times I’ve taken the “night-shift” with the kids.

It doesn’t get joy out of another mom’s struggle.

It always protects.

It always trusts.

It always hopes.

It always perseveres.

It was then that I realized that I hadn’t been loving those whom God gave me to love. I was crushed with the overwhelming sense of conviction and the need for repentance at what I had been truly feeling in my heart. This was the health of my heart and I didn’t like it.

So I prayed. Prayed for His forgiveness and His help, because it’s easy to be the opposite of loving. That part comes naturally.

In the morning, I was refreshed despite the loss of sleep. But I woke with a different perspective. A God perspective seeking the Holy Spirit to guide me in loving all those in my path. This is my prayer.

Have you checked the condition of your heart lately?

Tearing Down The Idol Of People Pleasing

Ministry Mom

image1 2Written by: Ashley Sigrest

It’s natural to want people to like us, but what happens when that want overshadows our need to serve Christ?

A few years back a close friend seemingly disappeared from my life. To put it more bluntly, I was friend dumped! We never had an argument or anything and I was distraught on what could have made her just walk away from our friendship. I begged God for answers and prayed often about confronting her, but He never answered either of those longings.

About a year after our friendship ended, the Lord called me to help with a group whom this friend did not agree with. During this time God stretched and grew me in incredible ways. One day the Lord showed me had He not ended that friendship, my loyalty to her would have kept me from stepping out in faith for Him.

My heart was broken! Conviction choked me like a noose and I knew God was right. I immediately repented and was able to lay down the hurt I held onto from losing that friend. Our friendship had become more important to me than my walk with Christ, but I never even noticed it.

Far too often we build idols out of our relationships with others. Our pride rises up and we try immensely to ensure people think the best of us. On the surface this doesn’t appear to be bad, but underneath we have forgotten our first Love and turned ourselves over to an idol of people pleasing.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:23-24‬ ‭

Living a life for Christ means that we will make others angry. The Bible guarantees us we will be persecuted for our faith. In order to tear down the idol of people pleasing we must keep Christ at the forefront of our decisions.

Are you serving in your church to be noticed or to please one of the leaders? Or are you serving because you genuinely want to honor God? Satan can turn even good and honorable things just so that we don’t even realize that our intentions have changed.

Let’s challenge ourselves today look at our relationships with others; bosses, spouses, children, leaders, and make sure we are not striving to please them above pleasing God. Whatever it is that we do, let us work for God and through our obedience to Him, we will shine for others to give Him the glory, and not ourselves.

Who Do You Value?

Ministry Mom

Erin PetersWritten by: Erin Peters

Hello We Are His Daughters readers! I’m so excited for the opportunity to be part of this ministry, share my heart with you and this opportunity to grow together, even if it is through a computer screen.

As Mandy shared, I’m a wife, a mom of three and serve in ministry at my home church. I truly feel blessed by God to be able serve and love the people, big and small, in both my home and my church.

Because I’m a mom and serve in ministries where we follow the school calendar, September is always a busy time. (But really, what time of year isn’t.) I usually try and take the summer months to evaluate, review and set goals and take some time for extra soul care. And as usual, God uses that time to show me some “growth opportunities” in my life.

One of the “growth opportunities” He showed me over the last few months is my struggle to value people. As usual, I argued with Him a bit and started listing all the people I valued in my life. And as usual, He started bringing people to mind who I don’t. It’s that list of “EGR” or “extra grace required”. Eeek! Didn’t like that list so much.

God gently and lovingly reminded me that not only was I probably on someone else’s “EGR” list, but that I needed to review what grace actually was. And tucked in the back of my Bible in the notes section, I see that grace is receiving the gifts and rewards of God that we don’t deserve. Gulp!

And this passage immediately came to mind: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us. and his love is made complete in us.1 John 4:7-12

What jumped out to me in that passage was the pronouns us and we. Strange, I know, but what that told me is this message and reminder was not just for one person, but for a group of people. A group who probably had some “EGR” people in their midst. And notice that God did not give a footnote, an asterisk or a parentheses that said “you only have to love those people that are likeable and easy to get along with”. Nope, none of that!

Friends, I’m praying I’m not the only one who needs this message and reminder today. This amazing truth that God valued and loved each one of us so much, He chose to send His only Son to this earth to be our sacrifice.

So after this huge wake-up call from the Lord, I’m being purposeful and intentional in looking for the value in every person He chooses to put in my path. Will you join me?

Ugly, Shameful Truth Revealed

Ministry Mom

MandyWritten by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.(Romans 15:7)

Acceptance.

There is no easy way to say this, so I am just going to come right out and say it: as Christ-followers, we need to do a much better job at accepting others.

Recently, I had the privilege of meeting with a sweet friend who shared with me some hurts that she had hidden in a dark place of her heart for year and years and years. She had only shared these hurts with one other person and that person tore her up about it. What’s worse, this ‘friend’ then walked away from their friendship, neither accepting nor supporting her with her inner battle.

My friend was struggling. The enemy was whispering lies to her soul and she was desperately trying to silence them. She was reaching out in hopes of support and encouragement — but instead of either of those things, she walked away with compounded wounds.

Let me tell you something, friends. Every single one of us has struggles. Yes, that means you have struggles too. If someone is courageous enough to share their struggle with you— embrace them with love and grace. Notice I didn’t say to embrace their struggle —no, I plead with you to embrace your friend. Love her. Offer grace where shame and guilt are stealing away her joy. You don’t know when you’re going to need the same kind of love and grace.

We need to start acknowledging the absolute gift of being the hands and feet of Jesus for someone who is struggling. That doesn’t mean we need to BE Jesus. We simply need to call on the Holy Spirit and ask Him to guide our words and actions in the moments ahead. He already has a plan to bring healing to your friend— it is up to us to make ourselves available to be a part of His plan. And, if you can’t be part of His plan, you need to know that instead, you will be hindering it.

The enemy would love for us to keep our struggles hidden and in the dark. That is why it is so crucial that we are being sensitive to others if they choose to trust us with their vulnerability. When struggles are brought into the light they lose their power over us because we can see how little they are in comparison to God’s mercy and grace.

Do you have someone in your life that you need to be better at accepting? I urge you not to wait another day. Know that it is an absolute privilege to serve and honour God in this way, and then endeavour do so with everything you’ve got.

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” (Romans 14:1)

Mirror, Mirror On My Heart

Ministry Mom

MandyWritten by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Confidence has never been my strong suit.

I had a conversation with a friend a few years back where I shared the reality of my struggle with self-confidence.

I wish I could tell you that this open and vulnerable discussion with a trusted friend initiated a process of healing and that I am now overflowing in confidence. But that would be a lie.

You see, even a couple of years after that conversation with my friend, the struggle is more real than ever before. When I look in the mirror and ask myself “mirror, mirror on the wall”…this is what I see:

A woman who often feels like her age far surpasses her achievements and success.

— A woman who often struggles with this mothering thing and her lack of a pinterest-y perfect
life for her beautiful family.

— A woman who regrets each time she fails and gives into the chaos of a moment and…yells in frustration at her husband or children.

— A woman who reacts to an offence in a way that is not loving and forgiving.

— A woman who did not finish university because of her fear of failure.

— A woman who is desperately disappointed with the way she looks and merits a few dozen extra pounds as a perfectly good reason to lose worth in the eyes if herself and others.

Despite how completely depleted of confidence I might feel on any given day, this truth remains: God made me who I am—every single detail—and it grieves God when I stand in front of the mirror berating the very person He created me to be.

Instead of, “mirror, mirror on the wall…,” I believe a better question to ask might be, “mirror, mirror, on my heart….” And, when asking myself this important question, I must be prepared to answer in the way that the mirror reflects the love of Jesus that pumps through my veins. It is ONLY because of God and His grace, mercy, and love that I am who I am. Without Him, my life would be but a vapour, enduring an eternity in Hell.

That perspective sort of brings you to your knees with overwhelming gratitude, does it not?

Psalm 139:13-16
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvellously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.

All glory be to God. For His works are made well. Believe it, friend. God made me, and He made you—and we are both made well in His image. We are marvellously made indeed.

Always Beginning Again

IMG_0015Written by: Marisa Aud

Hello Beautiful! Welcome to another bright & bushy Monday, because that’s just what it typically is; painfully bright and awkwardly bushy. This isn’t your first Monday of course, but it’s your first Monday with me and I’m excited for the journey we are about take.

One of my favorite things in life is getting pumped-up with people on their journey towards love, health, motherhood, and new adventures of all kinds. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not all glitter and sunshine; I can get down with the baddest of blues, but if something good is happening for you lady, you best be believin’ that I am gonna high five you all the way to the top!

Sometimes, I forget to live in the moment and celebrate the precious, beautiful, barely-there miracles – so I’m sure-as-heck not gonna let you do the same.

Cheering people on is what I love to do and here’s why; on my saddest, loneliest, crumbs-in-every-corner Monday, I would’ve loved for someone to cheer me on and tell me that I was normal, that my mothering was brilliant, and that the fight for peace was well-worth it. Also, it would not have hurt if someone would’ve reminded me that exercising does indeed make a difference and that there is, in fact, life beyond Kraft Dinner and cold chicken nuggets. Can I get an AMEN?! So why are Mondays so tough for us? Well here’s my take on it…

For those of us crawling back into office on Monday, you know that leftover-to-do list from last week is waiting for you, not to mention the myriad of emergencies that happened over the weekend.

For SAHMs (Stay at Home Mommies), Monday is the day when everything goes deafeningly silent, the laundry piles are taller than our offspring and the kids are shockingly cranky.

For those in ministry, Mondays are the day you mentally drag yourself back through your time at church; how many people did I give hugs to, who did I miss, did I pray for enough people and did my breath stink whilst doing so?
Monday is universally a difficult day.

So, what does a lady who wants to stay motivated do in the throws of the Monday doldrums?

We decide together, here and now, that Mondays from hence-forth are our opportunity to consciously and prayerfully cheer a sister on towards her weekend, her to-do list, her scary new hair cut, health plan or difficult conversation. True, we are exhausted mentally, physically, spiritually, romantically, metaphorically, aaaaand figuratively, but that just means that we are gonna require some powerful resurrection sauce; dang straight we are.

In Matthew 28, Luke 24 and John 20 we read the account of the Mary who went to visit Jesus’ tomb on the first day of week. When she arrived at the tomb there was no earthly explanation for what she saw; the stone had been rolled away! And her Savior appeared to her, but at first she didn’t even recognize Him. Mary assumed He was the Cemetery Gardener. But once Mary’s eye were opened she unofficially became the first Evangelist of the Christian Church.

How undeniably awesome is that?

If you were Mary and you found an empty tomb on Sunday wouldn’t Monday be the most exciting day of your week? The day you just couldn’t wait to get started on?

Mondays were never meant to be a burial day, friend, but a day of celebrating resurrection; you and I get a chance to begin again and spread some excitement! How awesome is that?

As His Daughters, we get to be carriers of His presence to so many who have lost sight or simply never known this mighty Resurrection power. I’m excited to challenge you every week to remember what Mondays really mean.

I want you to begin to believe with me again; that the very same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead is the same power that dwells within you. Through the power of the promised Holy Spirit you are able to tear down strongholds, vain expectations, and the nagging fear of never being enough. God has good things in store for you sister.

Will you let me cheer you on as you begin your week again?
xo Maud

{Online Book Study} But They Make It Look So Easy

image1 2Written by: Ashley Sigrest

Our family has always enjoyed watching the Olympics. The best of the best from all around the world competing to be known as a champion. These skilled athletes make their sports look simple.

If a normal person like you and I attempted to vault like Simone Biles we would greatly injure ourselves. My oldest son tried to swim at Michael Phelps speed and immediately began gasping for air. What these athletes do isn’t just hard, it’s impossible without training.

When I first became a stay at home mom I often compared myself to two other moms I knew. Their homes were always spotless, they were constantly doing DIY projects, and they always looked stylish and put together. And this was before Pinterest was invented!

Oh how I felt like a failure! I would wear myself out trying to be like them and no matter what I did, I never measured up. I would cry and complain to my husband,

But they make it look so easy!

He comforted me and reminded me to just be myself. To focus on what I was good at and to keep trying at the things I wanted to accomplish.

The more I got to know these other moms I learned why they seemed to have it all together. One grew up sewing therefore whipping up new curtains was easy for her. The other joked about all the horrible DIY fails she had painting furniture until she found her groove. One even confessed her low self-esteem and how always wearing make-up and dressing up makes her less self-conscious. And then to my shock, one admitted how she admired the kind of mother I was. It amazed her how I always seemed to stop everything to play with or read to my boys. She couldn’t do that til everything on her list was done.

The thing is, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Even Olympic athletes. Social media can often give us the impression that others have it all together or can do everything we can’t. We have to keep our perspective in check. Social media typically just gives us the high lights.

Sometimes natural talent gives way to great accomplishments, but everything done greatly is done through perseverance and hard work. Olympians spend the majority of their lives training to compete. Those moms I mentioned, they took the time to learn how to craft and chose to work diligently to make their homes beautiful.

Comparing ourselves hurts not only our esteem, but can also damage our relationships with others. Be of good heart sweet sisters! We’re all on the same team!

We know watching the Olympics that what they’re doing isn’t simple or easy. So moms let’s keep in mind that not everything another mom can do is easy for her. If there’s something we admire in another mom let them know. Congratulate them! Then let’s ask them for advice or help if it’s something we’d like too try.

Nothing great ever comes easy.

{Online Book Study} The Bonus Bin

MandyWritten by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

Each week I strategically plan out my grocery list. I use this super-incredible app on my phone called “Flipp” to help me get the lowest prices on the items that have worked their way to my list throughout the week. This process of “Flipping” is both exhilarating, exciting and stressful wrapped in one. I mean, who doesn’t LOVE a great deal— but those deals take time to find and not every week is as bountiful in the deal department as the last.

This week I was able to “Flipp” several items possibly marking this grocery adventure as my best yet. My greatest savings were on a gigantic box of diapers which saved my budget over twenty dollars. I was so excited by this savings I called both my husband and my parents from the van to share it with them. My excitement could not be contained.

“         …And in this book, as we reach the final phrase in Paul’s doxology on the ‘beyondness’ of God’s ability, I find myself marvelling at how God multiplies His blessings. When He moves within our lives, He doesn’t stop at doing just one miracle, at on time, in one way, for one purpose. The abundant capabilities and possibilities of God’s activity position us over the bonus bin, because He does nothing without doing a whole bunch of things at the same time.
He’s a two-for-one specialist…and then some.” Priscilla Shirer, God Is Able, (pg. 136)

Friends, our lives truly are positioned over the bonus bin. God’s outpouring, His exceedingly abundant outpouring of blessings in our lives is quite something. Take a moment and just think about the ways God has blessed you this day; this week; this month; this year. My guess is that your blessings are too vast to give an appropriate account of.

This post, however, isn’t about the many ways in which we are blessed. We have established that we are incredibly blessed by God. Instead, this post is about what we do with our blessings. Do we sit on them, keep them and our excitement about them to ourselves? Or, do we embrace every single opportunity we have (both big and small) to bestow the glory that is owed, and so desired for, to God?

Turning the glory back over to God isn’t something I have been stellar at. It hasn’t been an intentional omission. But, Priscilla has gotten my attention and I do plan to make some changes. God is so big, so great and has blessed me, protected me and saved me…on countless occasions. I have missed opportunities to give Him glory in the past, maybe you have too, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look ahead with a new intent to embrace every blessing and every provision as a fresh opportunity to give God ALL the glory He deserves with an uncontainable excitement, as I was with the diaper deal!

After all, anything and everything God does is so much better than even the very best deal.

Now to Him…be the glory…forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20)

{Online Book Study} God Is ENOUGH

image1 2Written by: Ashley Sigrest

Five years ago I was struggling in every area of my life it seemed. Though it appeared I had many people in my life, I always felt alone. Every relationship felt strained from my marriage, to my family, to my friends. This overwhelming feeling finally caught up to me one day as I was stuck in traffic. In fit of anger and frustration I yelled at my radio about a particular relationship that was bugging me that day.

Yep. The radio. I guess if you’re going to have a tantrum being alone in your car is a good place to be. It wasn’t the radio that answered back to my outburst. In the midst of my sobs God gently asked me, “Am I not enough for you?

Yes, God! You’re more than enough!” I knew this to be true, but instead of soaking in His presence each time the weight of loneliness was too much to bear, I would find a physical comfort to soften my hurt. Food, television, music, a book, writing, a friend. These seemingly innocent things became my substitute source of comfort. What I didn’t realize at the time was I had made them into idols that could never satisfied my need to belong.

My heart broke when I heard God ask me that question. I felt ashamed and convicted and in that moment I repented. His presence filled my car with peace and comfort. I began dealing with my loneliness by seeking Him first, but I also had to search myself to see what fault I had in other relationships that might be causing me to feel alone.

I wish I could say I never again turned to physical things when I felt hurt, but sadly I have. The more we seek Him each day and spend time with God in His word, in prayer, and worship, the stronger we become in His Holy Spirit. That longing we have to be loved and cared for was filled the moment we gave our lives to Christ. We cannot let our human feelings blind us to the truth of Whose we are.

Nevertheless, I am continually with You;
You hold my right hand.
You guide me with Your counsel,
and afterward You will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalm 73:23-26 ESV)

I don’t know what you’re going through in this season, but friend I pray you know that God is right there with you. Call to Him in this moment and do not delay. He is enough.