inspiring motherhood {and everything else}

Can I say that I’m “reading” a book if I’m actually “listening” to it through Audible? I think yes.

So I’m “reading” Bonhoeffer — which, for the record, should only take me a total of 22 hours according to the app. Twenty-two. That’s a thick book…I would imagine, if my version was on actual paper.

Anyway, I was listening to, I mean reading, it the other day and it messed me up. Like, I was undone while driving. And I’m not even to the part that tells me of Dietrich’s martyrdom. It was just a story — a description — of his mom.

The author says that Dietrich’s mom was the “soul and spirit of their home.” Soul and spirit.

 

soul and spirit

 

It doesn’t sound as devastating now when I type it out but it spoke to me. The author goes on to say that Dietrich’s mom read poetry to her kids and sang hymns with them and performed dramas in the basement and set up a carpenter’s area in which the boys could to do their “work” and… lots of other awesome things. Mostly, she was present-active.

And I didn’t feel guilty. As neither should you. I just felt inspired. I mean, I can’t sing well. And we don’t have a basement. But I want to be the “soul and spirit of our home” — not in a weird theologically incorrect way, just in a motherly way. I want my kids to look back to their childhood and see me present, my eyes looking straight into theirs.

I want to inspire them to create and learn and develop into the one that their God designed them to be — unique and beautiful. I want to be a safe place for them to be messy and emotional or even confused about their faith. The soul and spirit of our home.

But the more I think about it, we are the soul and spirit of every minute we take up. Or at least a soul and spirit. The question is, “what do we leave behind?” Because whatever is in us pours out of us. If we’re full of fear and worry, that’s what will come out. If we’re full of anger and bitterness, that’s what will come out. But if we’re full of love, peace, faith, and hope, well…

Our soul and spirit touches every space.

 

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
~Jesus
Matthew 12:34

 

It’s not about guilt. Guilt isn’t from our God. Guilt points and jeers and blames. It doesn’t spur on. It crushes.

It’s about inspiration. The inspiration to be fully present, overflowing the love of our God onto those beside us.

Love that gives us a glimpse into the soul of another. Love that drives us to be all-there because the minutes are fleeting, and babies grow to be kids who grow to be…gone. Love that says, “Now is all we have. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow never comes. Be all here.”

Love inspires. Kindness inspires. Being fully present in this moment, and then the next, inspires. You and me watering the soul of another so that it blooms into all its intended splendor.

Ahhh.

That doesn’t mean that the grape juice won’t spill all over the kitchen floor. Or hormones won’t rage. Or someone won’t have a bad attitude for the day/week/year. It just means that as much as depends upon me and you, we can pray, “Lord make me the soul and spirit of this place, this moment, reflecting the beauty of Your tender love.”

It has to be of the overflow — us so full of God that He spills out onto those with whom we share space. Us walking in step with the Spirit of God by reminding our hearts of His Word and promises and strength. Reminding ourselves that people matter more than tasks. Us calling a friend for intercession when we’re at our breaking point. Us choosing to worship God regardless.

The soul and spirit of a place — the soul and spirit who reflects the tender presence of her Lord. May it be said of me.

 
Fill me, Lord…

These days, I would describe my soul and spirit as _______________. (Fill in the blank)

 

one thing that inspires change in people

I’m writing this blog post with a grimace on my face because I did one of those “Insanity” workout videos for the first time. Because apparently I’m insane. Because now I can barely walk. Because I have muscles in places that I didn’t know muscles existed and every last one of them is begging me for high doses of Ibuprofen. Woe is me with my first-world problems.

But as I’ve sat in all my soreness, I’ve prayed for you and for what God would have me say today. Because only He can takes words from a screen and graciously use them to minister to souls.

W o r d s .

I remember when God first told me — not audibly or I would have freaked — what He was leading me to do. I remember writing it down 13 years ago in my little journal with complete conviction, “You’re calling me to speak and write. What You say to me in the closet You want me to declare on the rooftops!” This prodigal girl turned seminary student, graced with forgiveness…and words.

 

grace words

 

Words hold such power. With them we can lift the downcast and stir up faith in the sullen. We can praise this unbelievably glorious God and pour life into those running the faith race with us. Or, devastatingly, we can poison the soul of another, encourage fear, and drag people in condemnation’s dirt.

W o r d s .

 

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
Proverbs 18:21

 

I’ve always heard it said that the closer we get to God the more depraved we see ourselves to be. Because He’s so glorious, and in His light we see more and more of our need for grace. And I think that’s an absolutely true assessment.

But I also think that parenting performs a similar task — revealing our need for grace. Lord, help me. We as parents have such deep, innate love for our children and we want them to live the blessed life. So our natural tendency is to try to control what they do because we want to help. And in that control, we have lots of emotion and out of that emotion we say lots of things. Lots of things. I get tired of talking.

But God has me wrestling with my words — in parenting and with everyone else on the planet, for that matter. He has me grappling with what words are truly helpful and what words are a reflection of me trying to control…everything, ultimately out of fear. Another post for another day.

The other morning in my journal I ended with “Lord God, put a guard over my lips!” Because I don’t want my words to be what hinders someone’s freedom. I want my words to bring life.

So as a mom, especially when I want to say things to reiterate poor choices and why those choices were so depraved, God is challenging me to speak life words, grace words.

When my boy does the same thing I’ve asked him not to do for the 83rd time that day after being disciplined 83 times that day — just like I disobey God — I’m tempted to say some…things. And sometimes I do say some “things”. But I’m learning what it means to speak life with the driving hope that life words, dripping with grace, bring the greatest change.

 

“The fruits of grace are always in the future.”
Tullian Tchividjian in One Way Love

 

“Son, you are precious — crafted by God. He has plans specifically for you. And He absolutely loves you. And so do I. And in spite of our many weaknesses and many failures, God sent Jesus to take the punishment we deserve. It’s because of Him that you and I are forgiven. It’s because of Him that we don’t have to control everyone and everything on the planet. We can trust Him to be faithful. We can depend on Him to fight our battles and lead the way. So let’s talk about how you can depend on Him when you feel like you want to (hit/kick/destroy/push/fight/mouth-off/etc).”

Words have power. With them we can pour out grace or we can spew condemnation. With them we can demolish fears or we can bind others with chains.

And when we fail to speak words marked with grace and truth — which we will later today — God speaks words marked with grace and truth over us. A priceless gift.

 
Fill me, Lord…

How have you experienced the power of words in your life?
 

Don’t forget to download your free copy of my newest ebook Life Giver! Click here to find out how.
 

the door that leads to contentment

I’ve noticed something creeping into our home that literally sucks the joy and contentment from life’s atmosphere. The culprit? Whining. Complaining. Criticizing. Negativity.

Ugh.

It’s one attitude that can make my face do that “I’m so annoyed” thing. Not that I’m completely innocent. I sometimes jump on the complainers-unite-bandwagon. Usually internally. About more “mature” issues. Ridiculous. But seeing it from the vantage point of parenthood gives me new disdain. A disdain I pray continues to infect my own heart and need for gratitude.

 

Give thanks

 

So one thing I’ve done to help destroy this joy-stealing-villain is to start my kids with their own gratitude journals. Following the lead of so many lovely people who beautifully preach the message of “giving thanks” (sidenote: old news, have you read Ann’s book yet?), each of my kids have a new challenge: count your daily gifts, one by one.

I pray they learn to look for God in the dailiness of life. Yes, yucky stuff happens. Yes, we don’t always get what we “want”. Yes, some days will tempt us to crawl back in bed and pretend we’re in some tropical location. Alone. And happy. But “this is the day The Lord made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Choosing continual thanks doesn’t mean we don’t see the mess or the areas of life that could be better. It just means we choose to look more intently at God. If He’s always good (which He is), and nothing can separate us from His love (which it can’t), then there are always evidences of His love and goodness in the dailiness of life. Even in the most unwanted of days.

I could list a hundred verses from the Bible that talk about giving thanks continually…if I didn’t have three children who will be waking up soon looking for me and food. But the truth is that we learn contentment (which is beauty to our soul) through the door of thanksgiving.

 

We learn contentment through the door of thanksgiving.

 

Some days it will be harder to do. Some days, near impossible. But expecting to see the good, simply because of Who it is that sits on the throne of the universe, puts us in the position to receive His goodness. And what a devastation it would be to let all of His good gifts fall to the ground unnoticed.

So these little ones in the Williams’ home are choosing thanks. Well, they’re being forced to choose thanks with the hope that eventually continual gratitude will be their bent. And yes, I’m leading the way, journal in hand, noting the things He does to grace every moment with His love.

 
Fill me, Lord…

How have you noticed gratitude, even in the messiest parts of life, change your attitude and perspective?

Challenge: spend some time looking up verses in the Bible that contain the words “thanksgiving” or “thanks”. Then start counting His gifts in your today.