Rainy Days and Long Winters

I think often of the change of seasons and how it relates so intricately with our lives.  We seem to just get settled into Spring around here and boom it’s Summer! Let me tell you in Northwest Mississippi you know when summer hits.  The seasons come and go, and our lives seem to ebb and flow with the same motion. Young adults who get married, work jobs, have children, raise children, retirees, etc. The seasons move along and before we know it the time has gone and we wonder how it happened so quickly.

All except winter that is…winter lasts FOREVER. Or at least it feels that way every February.  This Florida transplant still struggles with February and I try so hard not to let the weather get me down, but it’s hard when it’s nothing but rain and gray skies.

Have you found yourself feeling the same? Why do all of the other seasons fly by while Winter drags by slow and stale.  It hasn’t helped  that the last couple weeks have brought their share of minor struggles.  You know the little things that accumulate and make you discouraged or disheartened along the way.  It’s easy to become distracted and encumbered with those weights but even as Paul encouraged us to “lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Heb.12:1) My challenge is to do this in the midst of the rain and cold.

When things are smooth sailing, I find this task much easier to do! But the task is not only to be managed in the easy season, it’s also for the Winter of the year and the soul. When we are parched, and raw and yearning for the warmth of the Sun and the Son, we have only to remember those words from Lamentations and know that by His mercy which is new every morning, we can do exactly the job God has for us each day. The purpose that we are here to fulfill on this earth, the precise reason for our living and breathing and moving.

If you find yourself struggling today with the burdens of this life, I pray you’ll turn to the One who bears all our burdens with us, and treasure the promise of the seasons – they are not forever, the next season is right around the corner.

 

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This is My Life

by Featured Writer Angela Jamison  headshot

Some days I’m exhausted by 9am.

The process of getting four, independent, listening-impaired, beautiful children out the door for the 8am school bus is comparable to an interval training workout. There are bouts of cardio while searching the house for lost items mixed with strength training of quite literally dragging sixty pound bodies out of bed.

Most days, we make it to the bus stop, with full bellies and a few minutes to spare. Most days, I don’t look too disheveled (I hope), but on the inside I’m feeling ragged and exhausted. I’m feeling grateful for the reprieve of school and guilty that my kids didn’t have a healthy, home-cooked breakfast with a June Cleaver-like mother.

We can all relate, right? Whether it be one child, four or simply getting ourselves out the door, we all understand the stress of the morning. We read articles, study Pinterest and a number of other things with the hope of achieving a flawless start to our day.

Today, my morning started as typical with a few bleary-eyed, blanket clad kids stumbling through my doorway at 615a while I desperately try to become presentable before the flood gates of life open. Clothes are picked, kids start getting dressed and it all goes down hill.

The oldest has managed to tie his shoe in a bazillion tiny knots, tighter than your jeans at Thanksgiving.

The youngest has the dog in a headlock, attempting to release the leg of her precious baby alive.

The middle daughter is still lying in bed, eyes fixed to Monster High on the television, oblivious of the chaos around her.

But the middle son takes the cake. He is grumbling, huffing and puffing as he tries to tie his shoe. He’s stationed himself in the middle of my bathroom floor, exactly where I need to walk to finish getting ready myself. I ask him to move to another location and when he puts his foot down, he begins frantically searching the bathroom.

“What are you looking for?”

A bit panicked he says, “My shoe is missing!”

…It’s on his foot.

He is frantically searching for his shoe that is solidly on his foot. The same foot he’s using to search for said shoe.

This is my life.

It may look strikingly similar to your life or you’re reading this with memories of the past flashing through your mind. Either way, we all have those moments of chaos, searching for something that is right in front of our faces. Sometimes what we’re searching for is Jesus.

Like my son’s shoe securely on his foot, Jesus sits right in front of us simply waiting for us to notice and we miss it because well…chaos. Our lives our chaotic and the devil uses that to separate us from our peace maker. How easy do we make it for him!

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 ESV 

Take comfort in that the Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save. He is with us amidst our chaos; we simply need to seek him. Zephaniah continues to say that He will save and whether that means he will save me from my chaos, save the baby alive from the dog or the shoes from the garbage I am not sure, but what I do know is that even his smallest save is a big gift.

Some days I’m exhausted by 9am. Some days chaos overwhelms me. Even yet, all days, I am in the midst of a God who saves

Hurricane History

by Victoria Duerstock

In the aftermath of Harvey, I have thought long and hard about my experiences once again living on the Gulf Coast of Florida for many years.  We saw many hurricanes over the years, some with very little damage and others with devastating effects for many months.  I hurt for the people of Texas, knowing that very soon, the rest of us will move on with our lives, while they start the very long and difficult process of rebuilding their lives, their homes, and their mental health.

Anytime a hurricane develops, I feel a familiar pit in my stomach.  Although it’s been several years now since the landfall of a major hurricane on the mainland United States, the monstrous effects of Hurricane Ivan on me, and my family personally, remain, likely forever.  As a wife and mom, the effect of the hurricane was not just in the packing and evacuating but also in the separation and difficult decisions that had to be made not just before the storm but after.

While I, my mom, and the kids evacuated from Hurricane Ivan just prior to its landfall on the panhandle of Florida on September 16, 2004, my husband remained behind to help with rescue and recovery efforts.  My husband stayed because he was a volunteer fireman in our local fire department and felt his presence was vital to help our community with recover. He and the crew evacuated just far enough inland to still be accessible once the hurricane had passed through as they were ordered to stay off the roads until the all clear.

Enjoying this post?  Head over to w2wministries.org to read the rest!

Life isn’t all cupcakes and barbies

by Angela Jamison – featured columnist

Life is hard.

After a particularly difficult day not getting everything exactly how she wanted it, my daughter, age six, went into a meltdown. The stars were not aligning properly and she just knew that if she had new barbies life would be perfect. My eight year old son, clearly wise beyond his years, simply told her, “Well, life isn’t all cupcakes and barbies.”

Life isn’t all cupcakes and barbies.

Hilarious, yet pertinent and insightful commentary. It’s true – life isn’t all cupcakes and barbies. Sometimes we feel entitled to “cupcakes and barbies” because we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, but that’s not what is promised to us. Eternal salvation is promised. Earthly ease is not.

In fact, life is sometimes down right crumby.

As Christians, we have the tendency to assume our place in the family of believers as one of Christ’s children means the absence of trials, tribulations or difficulties. That’s simply not the case. Satan is hard at work here on Earth and he will continue to rear his ugly head.

Being a part of Christ’s family does not mean life will be easy, but it does mean that we will never have to travel alone. The burden of pain, heartache, or trial will be shared and there will be an unyielding hope that resonates within us.

Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

God is not wishy-washy, he’s commanding. He commands us to be strong and courageous, not afraid or discouraged.  He commands these things because He, the Lord your God, will be with you wherever you go. Not once does he imply that we won’t face trials that frighten us or defeats that discourage us, but rather commands our behavior and attitude for when we do.

God prepares us with his word and his promise is steadfast. Even on the hard days, we are not alone.

Life may not be all cupcakes and barbies, but it is faith, hope and love.

www.encouragingwomentoday.com

Exulting in the Promises!

Long and difficult describe many days of motherhood. Still other days filled with happiness and laughter spill out as precious memories in the landscape of time.  The challenge for us lies in the knowledge that we never know which day it will be, on any given morning as our feet hit the floor and we start the day. In each of these days, we can rest in the promises of God’s word. The good and the bad in light of God’s truth can encourage our hearts when we hurt, and keep us grounded when the days are easy.

Come join me at w2wministries for the rest of the post – just click here!

You are Beautiful!

I am so incredibly excited to introduce you to my friend Angela Jamison.

She is guest posting for us today at Encouraging Women and I want you to get to know her and her really big heart better. At the end of her post, you’ll see her bio and info and you’ll be able to catch her here as a regular contributor as well as on her own blog – https://angelajamison.wordpress.com/

I scroll Facebook and am inundated with pictures. Pictures of people who are traditionally thin with radiant complexions and perfectly styled hair. I look in the mirror and wonder where I’m going wrong. I’m not thin. My complexion fluctuates more than the weather here in Kentucky and my hair is one of two styles – loose and limp or messy bun.

 Satan capitalizes on social media and uses it to instill doubt and destroy self-worth. He nurtures comparisons and watches with delight as we sink into self-destruction. Satan doesn’t want you to know that you are beautiful.

But guess what? You are!

I don’t need to be thin with a perfect complexion and styled hair to proudly claim the title of beautiful. And neither do you. Our beauty does not lie in the number on the scale, the glow of our face or the shine of our hair. Our beauty lies in the hands of the One who created us.

 Read that again … Your beauty lies in the hands of the one who created you. You are beautiful, just as you are, because you were purposefully created by the most high God.

 In His word, God reminds us repeatedly, that we are beautiful. We are created in His perfect image and our worth does not lie in our outward appearance, but rather in the condition of our spirit.

 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

 As our seasons change, we often look to the past or the future for confirmation of what we desire. We want our pre-baby body back or we want to lose ten pounds before that summer wedding. Each season is unique and allows for our unique beauty. You were beautiful then, you will be beautiful in the future, but most importantly, you are beautiful now!

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL NOW.

Embrace the season you’re in! Instead of turning to Facebook for validation, turn the pages of THE book and be confirmed in your perfect, beautiful design.

Song of Songs 4:7 (NIV)

You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.

headshotAngela Jamison is a mother of four and works with young children as the Director of a Christian Preschool. She derives joy from children and is passionate about connecting with mothers to encourage and reiterate God’s design for the toughest job on Earth. 

 After struggling with infertility, Angela and her husband entered the world of foster care and began the journey to create their family on God’s terms

When she is not entertaining children, or buying LulaRoe, Angela loves to read, write and explore the path being laid before her by the most perfect parent, our Heavenly Father.

You Didn’t Plant That?

Life lessons abound in a variety of places.  I’ve spent some time over the last couple years looking at trends and writing about life lessons. Many of our experiences in this life lead to lessons learned and practical applications for the future. What seems to be a simple day, game, or training becomes an opportunity to learn something deeper that helps us to grow as individuals.
I recently had such an experience as it relates to my home garden.  Each year I tend to plant a little something in the spring, usually a combination of flowers, vegetables and greenery.  Some years I plant more than others, and sometimes the garden is planted directly in the ground and sometimes in pots on the deck.  I’ve decided I prefer using pots on the deck…so much easier to control weeds really.

This year was different though.  I had a very busy spring and as much as I enjoy planting and playing in the dirt, I ended up with no time to plant.  So strangely after returning from a recent conference, I went outside to discover some things growing in my pots.

 

Read the rest of the post one at my weekly spot with w2wministries.org – just click here to go directly to the post.